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% Wove I 




"the debtor" "the PORTION OF labor" 






Copyright, 1906, by Harper & Brothers. 
All rights reserved. 
Published January, 1907. 







"she felt the boy's warm breath on her neck " 140 
"the first thing he heard distinctly was the 
clergyman's pronouncing him and maria 

man and wife" ** 168 

"maria continued taking careful stitches" . " 292 
"she had a premonition THAT THIS STATE . . . 



TO CRY" . . " 432 





Maria Edgham, who was a very young girl, sat in the 
church vestry beside a window during the weekly prayer- 

As was the custom, a young man had charge of the 
meeting, and he stood, with a sort of embarrassed dig- 
nity, on the little platform behind the desk. He was 
reading a selection from the Bible. Maria heard him 
drone out in a scarcely audible voice: "Whom the 
Lord loveth, He chasteneth," and then she heard, in 
a quick response, a soft sob from the seat behind 
her. She knew who sobbed: Mrs. Jasper Cone, who 
had lost her baby the week before. The odor of 
crape came in Maria's face, making a species of dis- 
cordance with the fragrance of the summer night, which 
came in at the open window. Maria felt irritated by it, 
and she wondered why Mrs. Cone felt so badly about 
the loss of her baby. It had always seemed to Maria 
a most unattractive child, large-headed, flabby, and 
mottled, with ever an open mouth of resistance, and a 
loud wail of opposition to existence in general. Maria 
felt sure that she could never have loved such a baby. 
Even the unfrequent smiles of that baby had not been 



winning ; they had seemed reminiscent of the commonest 
and coarsest things of life, rather than of heavenly in- 
nocence. Maria gazed at the young man on the plat- 
form, who presently bent his head devoutly, and after 
saying, "Let us pray," gave utterance to an unintel- 
ligible flood of supplication intermingled with infor- 
mation to the Lord of the state of things on the earth, 
and the needs of his people. Maria wondered why, 
when God knew everything, Leon Barber told him about 
it, and she also hoped that God heard better than most 
of the congregation did. But she looked with a timid 
wonder of admiration at the young man himself. He 
was so much older than she, that her romantic fancies, 
which even at such an early age had seized upon her, 
never included him. She as yet dreamed only of other 
dreamers like herself, Wollaston Lee, for instance, who 
went to the same school, and was only a year older. 
Maria had made sure that he was there, by a glance, 
directly after she had entered, then she never glanced 
at him again, but she wove him into her dreams along 
with the sweetness of the midsummer night, and the 
morally tuneful atmosphere of the place. She was 
utterly innocent, her farthest dreams were white, but 
she dreamed. She gazed out of the window through 
which came the wind on her little golden - cropped 
head (she wore her hair short) in cool puffs, and she 
saw great, plumy masses of shadow, themselves like 
the substance of which dreams were made. The trees 
grew thickly down the slope, which the church crowned, 
and at the bottom of the slope rushed the river, which 
she heard like a refrain through the intermittent sough- 
ing of the trees. A whippoorwill was singing some- 
where out there, and the katydids shrieked so high that 
they almost surmounted dreams. She could smell wild 
grapes and pine and other mingled odors of unknown 
herbs, and the earth itself. There had been a hard 


shower that afternoon, and the earth still seemed to 
cry out with pleasure because of it. Maria had worn 
her old shoes to church, lest she spoil her best ones; 
but she wore her pretty pink gingham gown, and her 
hat with a wreath of rosebuds, and she felt to the 
utmost the attractiveness of her appearance. She, 
however, felt somewhat conscience-stricken on account 
of the pink gingham gown. It was a new one, and 
her mother had been obliged to have it made by a 
dress-maker, and had paid three dollars for that, beside 
the trimmings, which were lace and ribbon. Maria 
wore the gown without her mother's knowledge. She 
had in fact stolen down the backstairs on that ac- 
count, and gone out the south door in order that her 
mother should not see her. Maria's mother was ill 
lately, and had not been able to go to church, nor even 
to perform her usual tasks. She had always made 
Maria's gowns herself until this pink gingham. 

Maria's mother was originally from New England, 
and her conscience was abnormally active. Her father 
was of New Jersey, and his conscience, while no one 
would venture to say that it was defective, did not in » 
the least interfere with his enjoyment of life. 

" Oh, well, Abby ," her father would reply, easily, when 
her mother expressed her distress that she was unable 
to work as she had done, "we shall manage somehow. 
Don't worry, Abby." Worry in another irritated him 
even more than in himself. 

"Well, Maria can't help much while she is in school. 
She is a delicate little thing, and sometimes I am wor- 
ried about her." 

" Oh, Maria can't be expected to do much while she is 
in school," her father said, easily. " We'll manage some- 
how, only for Heaven's sake don't worry." 

Then Maria's father had taken his hat and gone down 
street. He always went down street of an evening. 



Maria, who had been sitting on the porch, had heard 
every word of the conversation which had been carried 
on in the sitting-room that very evening. It did not 
alarm her at all because her mother considered her deli- 
cate. Instead, she had a vague sense of distinction on 
account of it. It was as if she realized being a flower 
rather than a vegetable. She thought of it that night 
as she sat in meeting. She glanced across at a girl who 
went to the same school — a large, heavily built child 
with a coarseness of grain showing in every feature — 
and a sense of superiority at once exalted and humili- 
ated her. She said to herself that she was much finer 
and prettier than Lottie Sears, but that she ought to be 
thankful and not proud because she was. She felt vain, 
but she was sorry because of her vanity. She knew how 
charming her pink gingham gown was, but she knew that 
she ought to have asked her mother if she might wear it. 
She knew that her mother would scold her — she had a 
ready tongue — and she realized that she would deserve it. 
She had put on the pink gingham on account of Wol- 
laston Lee, who was usually at prayer-meeting. That, of 
course, she could not tell her mother. There are some 
things too sacred for little girls to tell their mothers. 
She wondered if Wollaston would ask leave to walk home 
with her. She had seen a boy step out of a waiting file at 
the vestry door to a blushing girl, and had seen the girl, 
with a coy readiness, slip her hand into the waiting crook 
of his arm, and walk off, and she had wondered when 
such bliss would come to her. It never had. She won- 
dered if the pink gingham might bring it to pass to- 
night. The pink gingham was as the mating plumage of 
a bird. All unconsciously she glanced sideways over the 
fall of lace-trimmed pink ruffles at her slender shoulders 
at Wollaston Lee. He was gazing straight at Miss Slome, 
Miss Ida Slome, who was the school-teacher, and his 
young face wore an expression of devotion, Maria's eyes 



followed his; she did not dream of being jealous; Miss 
Slome seemed too incalculably old to her for that. She 
was not so very old, in her early thirties, but the early 
thirties to a young girl are venerable. Miss Ida Slome 
was called a beauty. She, as well as Maria, wore a pink 
dress, at which Maria privately wondered. The teacher 
seemed to her too old to wear pink. She thought she 
ought wear black like her mother. Miss Slome's pink 
dress had knots of black velvet about it which accentu- 
ated it, even as Miss Slome's face was accentuated by the 
clear darkness of her eyes and the black puff of her hair 
above her finely arched brows. Her cheeks were of the 
sweetest red — not pink but red — which seemed a further 
tone of the pink of her attire, and she wore a hat en- 
circled with a wreath of red roses. Maria thought that 
she should have worn a bonnet. Maria felt an odd 
sort of instinctive antagonism for her. She wondered 
why Wollaston looked at the teacher so instead of at 
herself. She gave her head a charming cant, and 
glanced again, but the boy still had his eyes fixed upon 
the elder woman, with that rapt expression which is 
seen only in the eyes of a boy upon an older woman, 
and which is primeval, involving the adoration and awe 
of womanhood itself. The boy had not reached the 
age when he was capable of falling in love, but he had 
reached the age of adoration, and there was nothing 
in little Maria Edgham in her pink gingham, with her 
shy, sidelong glances, to excite it. She was only a girl, 
the other was a goddess. His worship of the teacher 
interfered with Wollaston's studies. He was wondering 
as he sat there if he could not walk home with her that 
night, if by chance any man would be in waiting for her. 
How he hated that imaginary man. He glanced around, 
and as he did so, the door opened softly, and Harry Edg- 
ham, Maria's father, entered. He was very late, but he 
had waited in the vestibule, in order not to attract at- 



tention, until the people began singing a hymn, " Jesus, 
Lover of my Soul," to the tune of " When the Swallows 
Homeward Fly." He was a distinctly handsome man. 
He looked much younger than Maria's mother, his wife. 
People said that Harry Edgham's wife might, from her 
looks, have been his mother. She was a tall, dark, rath- 
er harsh-featured woman. In her youth she had had a 
beauty of color; now that had passed, and she was 
sallow, and she disdained to try to make the most of 
herself, to soften her stern face by a judicious arrange- 
ment of her still plentiful hair. She strained it back 
from her hollow temples, and fastened it securely on 
the top of her head. She had a scorn of fashions in 
hair or dress except for Maria. " Maria is young, " she 
said, with an ineffable expression of love and pride, and 
a tincture of defiance, as if she were defying her own 
age, in the ownership of the youth of her child. She 
was like a rose-bush which possessed a perfect bud of 
beauty, and her own long dwelling upon the earth 
could on account of that be ignored. But Maria's 
father was different. He was quite openly a vain man. 
He was handsome, and he held fast to his youth, and 
would not let it pass by. His hair, curling slightly over 
temples boyish in outlines, although marked, was not 
in the least gray. His mustache was carefully trim- 
med. After he had seated himself unobtrusively in a 
rear seat, he looked around for his daughter, who saw 
him with dismay. "Now," she thought, her chances 
of Wollaston Lee walking home with her were lost. 
Father would go home with her. Her mother had 
often admonished Harry Edgham that when Maria 
went to meeting alone, he ought to be in waiting to 
go home with her, and he obeyed his wife, generally 
speaking, unless her wishes conflicted too strenuously 
with his own. He did not in the least object to-night, 
for instance, to dropping late into the prayer-meeting. 



There were not many people there, and all the windows 
were open, and there was something poetical and sweet 
about the atmosphere. Besides, the singing was un- 
usually good for such a place. Above all the other 
voices arose Ida Slome's sweet soprano. She sang like 
a bird; her voice, although not powerful, was thrillingly 
sweet. Harry looked at her as she sang, and thought 
how pretty she was, but there was no disloyalty to his 
wife in the look. He was, in fact, not that sort of man. 
While he did not love his Abby with utter passion, all the 
women of the world could not have swerved him from her. 

Harry Edgham came of perhaps the best old family 
in that vicinity, Edgham itself had been named for it, 
and while he partook of that degeneracy which comes 
to the descendants of the large old families, while it is 
as inevitable that they should run out, so to speak, as 
flowers which have flourished too many years in a gar- 
den, whose soil they have exhausted, he had not lost 
the habit of rectitude of his ancestors. Virtue was a 
hereditary trait of the Edghams. 

Harry Edgham looked at Ida Slome with as innocent 
admiration as another woman might have done. Then 
he looked again at his daughter's little flower-like head, 
and a feeling of love made his heart warm. Maria could 
sing herself, but she was afraid. Once in a while she 
droned out a sweet, husky note, then her delicate cheeks 
flushed crimson as if all the people had heard her, when 
they had not heard at all, and she turned her head, and 
gazed out of the open window at the plumed darkness. 
She thought again with annoyance how she would have 
to go with her father, and Wollaston Lee would not dare 
accost her, even if he were so disposed ; then she took a 
genuine pleasure in the window space of sweet night and 
the singing. Her passions were yet so young that they 
did not disturb her long if interrupted. She was also 
always conscious of the prettiness of her appearance, and 



she loved herself for it with that love which brings pre- 
visions of unknown joys of the future. Her charming lit- 
tle face, in her realization of it, was as the untried sword 
of the young warrior which is to bring him all the glory 
of earth for which his soul longs. 

After the meeting was closed, and Harry Edgham, 
with his little daughter lagging behind him with covert 
eyes upon Wollaston Lee, went out of the vestry, a num- 
ber inquired for his wife. " Oh, she is very comfortable/ * 
he replied, with his cheerful optimism which solaced him 
in all vicissitudes, except the single one of actually wit- 
nessing the sorrow and distress of those who belonged 
to him. 

"I heard, " said one man, who was noted in the place 
for his outspokenness, which would have been brutal 
had it not been for his naivete — "I heard she wasn't 
going to get out again.' ' 

" Nonsense/' replied Harry Edgham. 

"Then she is?" 

"Of course she is. She would have come to meeting 
to-night if it had not been so damp." 

"Well, I'm glad to hear it," said the man, with a 
curious congratulation which gave the impression of 
disappointment . 

Little Maria Edgham and her father went up the 
village street; Harry Edgham walked quite swiftly. "I 
guess we had better hurry along," he observed, "your 
mother is all alone." 

Maria tagged behind him. Her father had to stop 
at a grocery -store on the corner of the street where they 
lived, to get a bag of peaches which he had left there. 
"I got some peaches on my way," he explained, "and 
I didn't want to carry them to church. I thought your 
mother might like them. The doctor said she might 
eat fruit." With that he darted into the store with the 
agility of a boy. 



Maria stood on the dusty sidewalk in the glare of 
electric light, and waited. Her pink gingham dress was 
quite short, but she held it up daintily, like a young 
lady, pinching a fold between her little thumb and fore- 
finger. Mrs. Jasper Cone, with another woman, came 
up, and to Maria's astonishment, Mrs. Cone stopped, 
clasped her in her arms and kissed her. As she did so, 
she sobbed, and Maria felt her tears of bereavement on 
her cheek with an odd mixture of pity and awe and 
disgust. "If my Minnie had — lived, she might have 
grown up to be like her," she gasped out to her friend. 
"I always thought she looked like her." The friend 
made a sympathetic murmur of assent. Mrs. Cone 
kissed Maria again, holding her little form to her crape- 
trimmed bosom almost convulsively, then the two passed 
on. Maria heard her say again that she always had 
thought the baby looked like her, and she felt humiliated. 
She looked after the poor mothers streaming black veil 
with resentment. Then Miss Ida Slome passed by, and 
Wollaston Lee was clinging to her arm, pressing as 
closely to her side as he dared. Miss Slome saw Maria, 
and spoke in her sweet, crisp tone. Good -evening, 
Maria," said she. 

Maria stood gazing after them. Her father emerged 
from the store with the bag of peaches dangling from 
his hand. He looked incongruous. Her father had too 
much the air of a gentleman to carry a paper bag. "I 
do hope your mother will like these peaches," he said. 

Maria walked along with her father, and she thought 
with pain and scorn how singular it was for a boy to 
want to go home with an old woman like Miss Slome, 
when there were little girls like her. 


Maria and her father entered the house, which was 
not far. It was a quite new Queen Anne cottage of the 
better class, situated in a small lot of land, and with 
other houses very near on either side. There was a great 
clump of hydrangeas on the small smooth lawn in front, 
and on the piazza stood a small table, covered with a 
dainty white cloth trimmed with lace, on which were 
laid, in ostentatious neatness, the evening paper and a 
couple of magazines. There were chairs, and palms in 
jardinieres stood on either side of the flight of wooden 

Maria's mother was, however, in the house, seated 
beside the sitting-room table, on which stood a kerosene 
lamp with a singularly ugly shade. She was darning 
stockings. She held the stocking in her left hand, and 
drew the thread through regularly. Her mouth was 
tightly closed, which was indicative both of decision of 
character and pain. Her countenance looked sallower 
than ever. She looked up at her husband and little girl 
entering. < 'Well, ,, she said, "so you've got home." 

"I've brought you some peaches, Abby," said Harry 
Edgham. He laid the bag on the table, and looked anx- 
iously at his wife. "How do you feel now?" said he. 

"I feel well enough," said she. Her reply sounded 
ill-humored, but she did not intend it to be so. She was 
far from being ill-humored. She was thinking of her 
husband's kindness in bringing the peaches. But she 
looked at the paper bag on the table sharply. "If there 
is a soft peach in that bag," said she, "and there's likely 



to be, it will stain the table-cover, and I can never get 
it out." 

Harry hastily removed the paper bag from the table, 
which was covered with a white linen spread trimmed 
with lace and embroidered. . 

" Don't you feel as if you could eat one to-night? 
You didn't eat much supper, and I thought maybe — " 

"I don't believe I can to-night, but I shall like them 
to-morrow," replied Mrs. Edgham, in a voice soft with 
apology. Then she looked fairly for the first time at 
Maria, who had purposely remained behind her father, 
and her voice immediately hardened. " Maria, come 
here," said she. 

Maria obeyed. She left the shelter of her father's 
broad back, and stood before her mother, in her pink 
gingham dress, a miserable little penitent, whose peni- 
tence was not of a high order. The sweetness of looking 
pretty was still in her soul, although Wollaston Lee had 
not gone home with her. 

Maria's mother regarded her with a curious expression 
compounded of pride and almost fierce disapproval. 
Harry went precipitately out of the room with the paper 
bag of peaches. " You didn't wear that new pink ging- 
ham dress that I had to hire made, trimmed with all 
that lace and ribbon, to meeting to-night ?" said Maria's 

Maria said nothing. It seemed to her that such an 
obvious fact scarcely needed words of assent. 

"Damp as it is, too," said her mother. 

Mrs. Edgham extended a lean, sallow hand and felt 
of the dainty fabric. "It is just as limp as a rag," said 
she, "about spoiled." 

"I held it up," said Maria then, with feeble extenua- 

"Held it up!" repeated her mother, with scorn. 
"I thought maybe you wouldn't care." 



" Wouldn't care! That was the reason why you went 
out the other door then. I wondered why you did. 
Putting on that new pink gingham dress that I had to 
hire made, trimmed with all that lace and ribbon, and 
wearing it out in the evening, damp as it is to-night! 
I don't see what you were thinking of, Maria Edgham." 

Maria looked down disconsolately at the lace-trimmed 
ruffles on her skirt, but even then she thought how pret- 
ty it was, and how pretty she must look herself standing 
so forlornly before her mother. She wondered how her 
mother could scold her when she was her own daughter, 
and looked so sweet. She still felt the damp coolness of 
the night on her cheeks, and realized a bloom on them 
like that of a wild rose. 

But Mrs. Edgham continued. She had the high tem- 
per of the women of her race who had brought up great 
families to toil and fight for the Commonwealth, and 
she now brought it to bear upon petty things in lieu of 
great ones. Besides, her illness made her irritable. She 
found a certain relief from her constant pain in scolding 
this child of her heart, whom secretly she admired as she 
admired no other living thing. Even as she scolded, she 
regarded her in the pink dress with triumph. " I should 
think you would be ashamed of yourself, Maria Edg- 
ham," said she, in a high voice. 

Harry Edgham, who had deposited the peaches in the 
ice-box, and had been about to enter the room, retreated. 
He went out the other door himself, and round upon the 
piazza, when presently the smoke of his cigar stole into 
the room. Then Mrs. Edgham included him in her 

''You and your father are just alike," said she, bit- 
terly. "You both of you will do just what you want 
to, whether or no. He will smoke, though he knows it 
makes me worse, besides costing more than he can 
afford, and you will put on your best dress, without 



asking leave, and wear it out in a damp night, and 
spoil it." 

Maria continued to stand still, and her mother to 
regard her with that odd mixture of worshipful love and 
chiding. Suddenly Mrs. Edgham closed her mouth more 

" Stand round here," said she, violently. "Let me 
unbutton your dress. I don't see how you fastened it 
up yourself, anyway; you wouldn't have thought you 
could, if it hadn't been for deceiving your mother. You 
would have come down to me to do it, the way you 
always do. You have got it buttoned wrong, anyway. 
You must have been a sight for the folks who sat behind 
you. Well, it serves you right. Stand round here." 

" I am sorry," said Maria then. She wondered whether 
the wrong fastening had showed much through the slats 
of the settee. 

Her mother unfastened, with fingers that were at once 
gentle and nervous, the pearl buttons on the back of the 
dress. "Take your arms out," said she to Maria. Maria 
cast a glance at the window. "There's nobody out 
there but your father," said Mrs. Edgham, harshly, 
"take your arms out." 

Maria took her arms out of the fluffy mass and stood 
revealed in her little, scantily trimmed underwaist, a 
small, childish figure, with the utmost delicacy of articu- 
lation as to shoulder-blades and neck. Maria was thin 
to the extreme, but her bones were so small that she 
was charming even in her thinness. Her little, beauti- 
fully modelled arms were as charming as a fairy's. 

"Now slip off your skirt," ordered her mother, and 
Maria complied and stood in her little white petticoat, 
with another glance of the exaggerated modesty of little 
girlhood at the window. 

"Now," said her mother, "you go and hang this up 
in the kitchen where it is warm, on that nail on the 



outside door, and maybe some of the creases will come 
out. I've heard they would. I hope so, for I've got 
about all I want to do without ironing this dress all 

Maria gazed at her mother with sudden compunction 
and anxious love. After all, she loved her mother down 
to the depths of her childish heart ; it was only that long 
custom had so inured her to the loving that she did not 
always realize the warmth of her heart because of it. 
"Do you feel sick to-night mother?" she whispered. 

"No sicker than usual," replied her mother. Then 
she drew the delicate little figure close to her, and kissed 
her with a sort of passion. " May the Lord look out for 
you," she said, "if you should happen to outlive me! 
I don't know what would become of you, Maria, you 
are so heedless, wearing your best things every day, and 

Maria's face paled. " Mother, you aren't any worse ?" 
said she, in a terrified whisper. 

"No, I am not a mite worse. Run along, child, and 
hang up your dress, then go to bed; it's after nine 

It did not take much at that time to reassure Maria. 
She had inherited something of the optimism of her fa- 
ther. She carried her pink dress into the kitchen, with 
wary eyes upon the windows, and hung it up as her mother 
had directed. On her return she paused a moment at 
the foot of the stairs in the hall, between the dining- 
room and sitting-room. Then, obeying an impulse, she 
ran into the sitting-room and threw her soft little arms 
around her mother's neck. "I'm real sorry I wore that 
dress without asking you, mother," she said. "I won't 
again, honest." 

"Well, I hope you will remember," replied her 
mother. "If you wear the best you have common you 
will never have anything." Her tone was chiding, 



but the look on her face was infinitely caressing. She 
thought privately that never was such a darling as 
Maria. She looked at the softly flushed little face, with 
its topknot of gold, the delicate fairness of the neck, and 
slender arms, and she had a rapture of something more 
than possession. The beauty of the child irradiated her 
very soul, the beauty and the goodness, for Maria never 
disobeyed but she was sorry afterwards, and somehow 
glorified faults seem lovelier than cold virtues. "Well, 
run up-stairs to bed," said she. "Be careful of your 

When Maria was in her own room she set the lamp 
on the dresser and gazed upon her face reflected in 
the mirror. That was her nightly custom, and might 
have been regarded as a sort of fetich worship of self. 
Nothing, in fact, could have been lovelier than that 
face of childish innocence and beauty, with the soft 
rays of the lamp illuminating it. Her blue eyes seemed 
to fairly give forth light, the soft pink on her cheeks 
deepened until it was like the heart of a rose. She open- 
ed her exquisitely curved lips, and smiled at herself in a 
sort of ecstasy. She turned her head this way and that 
in order to get different effects. She pulled the little 
golden fleece of hair farther over her forehead. She 
pushed it back, revealing the bold yet delicate outlines 
of her temples. She thought how glad she should be 
when her hair was grown. She had had an illness two 
years before, and her mother had judged it best to have 
her hair cut short. It was now just long enough to 
hang over her ears, curving slightly forward like the 
old-fashioned earlocks. She had her hair tied back from 
her face with a pink ribbon in a bow on top of her head. 
She loosened this ribbon, and shook her hair quite loose. 
She peeped out of the golden radiance of it at herself, 
then she shook it back. She was charming either way. 
She was undeveloped, but as yet not a speck of the 



mildew of earth had touched her. She was flawless, 
irreproachable, except for the knowledge of her beauty, 
through heredity, in her heart, which was older than 
she herself. 

Suddenly Maria, after a long gaze of rapture at her 
face in the glass, gave a great start. She turned and 
saw her mother standing in the door looking at her. 

Maria, with an involuntary impulse of concealment, 
seized her brush, and began brushing her hair. "I was 
just brushing my hair," she murmured. She felt as 
guilty as if she had committed a crime. 

Her mother continued to look at her sternly. 1 ' There 
isn't any use in your trying to deceive me, Maria/' said 
she. "I am ashamed that a child of mine should be so 
silly. To stand looking at yourself that way! You 
needn't think you are so pretty, because you are not. 
You don't begin to be as good-looking as Amy Long." 

Maria felt a cold chill strike her. She had herself had 
doubts as to her superior beauty when Amy Long was 

" You don't begin to be as good-looking as your aunt 
Maria was at your age, and you know yourself how she 
looks now. Nobody would dream for a minute of call- 
ing her even ordinary-looking," her mother continued in 
a pitiless voice. 

Maria shuddered. She seemed to see, instead of her 
own fair little face in the glass, an elderly one as sallow 
as her mother's, but without the traces of beauty which 
her mother's undoubtedly had. She saw the thin, futile 
frizzes which her aunt Maria affected; she saw the reced- 
ing chin, indicative at once of degeneracy and obstinacy; 
she saw the blunt nose between the lumpy cheeks. 

"Your aunt Maria looked very much as you do when 
she was your age," her mother went on, with the calm 
cruelty of an inquisitor. 

Maria looked at her, her mouth was quivering. " Did 



I look like Mrs. Jasper Cone's baby that died last week 
when I was a baby?" said she. 

"Who said you did?" inquired her mother, unguard- 

"She did. She came up behind me with Mrs. Elliot 
when I was waiting for father to get the peaches, and 
she said her baby that died looked just like me ; she had 
always thought so." 

"That Cone baby look like you!" repeated Maria's 
mother. "Well, one's own always looks different to 
them, I suppose." 

"Then you don't think it did?" said Maria. Tears 
actually stood in her beautiful blue eyes. 

"No, I don't," replied her mother, abruptly. "No- 
body in their sober senses could think so. I am sorry 
poor Mrs. Cone lost her baby. I know how I felt when 
my first baby died, but as for saying it looked like 

"Then you don't think it did, mother?" 

" It was one of the homliest babies I ever laid my eyes 
on, poor little thing, if it did die," said Maria's mother, 
emphatically. She was completely disarmed by this 
time. But when she saw Maria glance again at the 
glass she laid hold of her moral weapons, the wielding 
of which she believed to be for the best spiritual good 
of her child. "Your aunt Maria was very much better 
looking than you at her age," she repeated, firmly. 
Then, at the sight of the renewed quiver around the 
sensitive little mouth her heart melted. "Get out of 
your clothes and into your night-gown, and get to bed, 
child," said she. "You look well enough. If you only 
behave as well as you look, that is all that is necessary." 



Maria fell asleep that night with the full assurance that 
she had not been mistaken concerning the beauty of the 
little face which she had seen in the looking-glass. All 
that troubled her was the consideration that her aunt 
Maria, whose homely face seemed to glare out of the dark- 
ness at her, might have looked just as she did when she 
was her age. She hoped, and then she hoped that the 
hope was not wicked, that she might die young rather 
than live to look like her aunt Maria. She pictured with 
a sort of pleasurable horror, what a lovely little waxen- 
image she would look now, laid away in a nest of white 
flowers. She had only just begun to doze, when she 
awoke with a great start. Her father had opened her 
door, and stood calling her. 

" Maria," he said, in an agitated voice. 

Maria sat up in bed. "Oh, father, what is it?" said 
she, and a vague horror chilled her. 

"Get up, and slip on something, and go into your 
mother's room," said her father, in a gasping sort of 
voice. "I've got to go for the doctor." 

Maria put one slim little foot out of bed. "Oh, 
father," she said, "is mother sick?" 

"Yes, she is very sick," replied her father. His voice 
sounded almost savage. It was as if he were furious 
with his wife for being ill, furious with Maria, with life, 
and death itself. In reality he was torn almost to mad- 
ness with anxiety. "Slip on something so you won't 
catch cold," said he, in his irritated voice. "I don't 
want another one down." 



Maria ran to her closet and pulled out a little pink 
wrapper. "Oh, father, is mother very sick?" she whis- 
pered again. 

"Yes, she is very sick. I am going to have another 
doctor to-morrow/ ' replied her father, still in that fu- 
rious, excited voice, which the sick woman must have 

"What shall I — " began Maria, but her father, run- 
ning down the stairs, cut her short. 

"Do nothing," said he. "Just go in there and stay 
with her. And don't you talk. Don't you speak a 
word to her. Go right in." With that the front door 

Maria went tiptoeing into her mother's room, still 
shaking from head to foot, and her blue eyes seeming 
to protrude from her little white face. Even before she 
entered her mother's room she became conscious of a 
noise, something between a wail and a groan. It was 
indescribably terrifying. It was like nothing which she 
had ever heard before. It did not seem possible that her 
mother, that anything human, in fact, was making such 
a noise, and yet no animal could have made it, for it was 
articulate. Her mother was in fact both praying and 
repeating verses of Scripture, in that awful voice which 
was no longer capable of normal speech, but was com- 
pounded of wail and groan. Every sentence seemed to 
begin with a groan, and ended with a long-drawn-out 
wail. Maria went close to her mother's bed and stood 
looking at her. Her poor little face would have torn her 
mother's heart with its piteous terror, had she herself not 
been in such agony. 

Maria did not speak. She remembered what her fa- 
ther had said. As her mother lay there, stretched out 
stiff and stark, almost as if she were dead, Maria glanced 
around the room as if for help. She caught sight of a 
bottle of cologne on the dresser, one which she had given 



her mother herself the Christmas before ; she had bought 
it out of her little savings of pocket-money. Maria went 
unsteadily over to the dresser and got the cologne. She 
also opened a drawer and got out a clean handkerchief. 
She became conscious that her mother's eyes were upon 
her, even although she never ceased for a moment her 
cries of agony. 

"What — r you do — g?" asked her mother, in her 
dreadful voice. 

"Just getting some cologne to put on your head, to 
make you feel better, mother," replied Maria, piteously. 
She thought she must answer her mother's question in 
spite of her father's prohibition. 

Her mother seemed to take no further notice; she 
turned her face to the wall. "Have — mercy upon me, 
O Lord, according to Thy loving kindness, according 
to the multitude of Thy tender mercies," she shrieked 
out. Then the words ended with a long - drawn - out 
"Oh— oh— " 

Had Maria not been familiar with the words, she could 
not have understood them. Not a consonant was fairly 
sounded, the vowels were elided. She went, feeling as 
if her legs were sticks, close to her mother's bed, and 
opened the cologne bottle with hands which shook like 
an old man's with the palsy. She poured some cologne 
on the handkerchief and a pungent odor filled the room. 
She laid the wet handkerchief on her mother's sallow 
forehead, then she recoiled, for her mother, at the shock 
of the coldness, experienced a new and almost insuffer- 
able spasm of pain. "Let — me alone!" she wailed, and 
it was like the howl of a dog. 

Maria slunk back to the dresser with the handker- 
chief and the cologne bottle, then she returned to her 
mother's bedside and seated herself there in a rocking- 
chair. A lamp was burning over on the dresser, but it 
was turned low; her mother's convulsed face seemed to 



waver in unaccountable shadows. Maria sat, not speak- 
ing a word, but quivering from head to foot, and her 
mother kept up her prayers and her verses from Script- 
ure. Maria herself began to pray in her heart. She said 
it over and over to herself, in unutterable appeal and 
terror, "O Lord, please make mother well, please make 
her well." She prayed on, although the groaning wail 
never ceased. 

Suddenly her mother turned and looked at her, and 
spoke quite naturally. "Is that you?" she said. 

"Yes, mother. I'm so sorry you are sick. Father 
has gone for the doctor." 

"You haven't got on enough," said her mother, still 
in her natural voice. 

"I've got on my wrapper." 

"That isn't enough, getting up right out of bed so. 
Go and get my white crocheted shawl out of the closet 
and put it over your shoulders." 

\ Maria obeyed. While she was doing so her mother 
resumed her cries. She said the first half of the twenty- 
third psalm, then she looked again at Maria seating her- 
self beside her, and said, in her own voice, wrested as it 
were by love from the very depths of mortal agony. 
"Have you got your stockings on?" said she. 
"Yes, ma'am, and my slippers." 

Her mother said no more to her. She resumed her 
attention to her own misery with an odd, small gesture 
of despair. The cries never ceased. Maria still prayed. 
It seemed to her that her father would never return with 
the doctor. It seemed to her, in spite of her prayer, 
that all hope of relief lay in the doctor, and not in the 
Lord. It seemed to her that the doctor must help her 
mother. At last she heard wheels, and, in her joy, she 
spoke in spite of her father's injunction. "There's the 
doctor now," said she. "I guess he's bringing father 
home with him." 



Again her mother's eyes opened with a look of intelli- 
gence, again she spoke in her natural voice. She looked 
towards the clothes which she had worn during the day, 
on a chair. ''Put my clothes in the closet/' said she, 
but her voice strained terribly on the last word. 

Maria flew, and hung up her mother's clothes in the 
closet just before her father and the doctor entered the 
room. As she did so, the tears came for the first time. 
She had a ready imagination. She thought to herself 
that her mother might never put on those clothes again. 
She kissed the folds of her mother's dress passionately, 
and emerged from the closet, the tears streaming down 
her face, all the muscles of which were convulsed. The 
doctor, who was a young man, with a handsome, rather 
hard face, glanced at her before even looking at the 
moaning woman in the bed. He said something in a 
low tone to her father, who immediately addressed her. 

"Go right into your own room, and stay there until 
I tell you to come out, Maria," said he, still in that 
angry voice, which seemed to have no reason in it. It 
was the dumb anger of the race against Fate, which 
included and overran individuals in its way, like Jug- 

At her father's voice, Maria gave a hysterical sob and 
fled. A sense of injury tore her heart, as well as her 
anxiety. She flung herself face downward on her bed 
and wept. After a while she turned over on her back 
and looked at the room. Not one little thing in the 
whole apartment but served to rack her very soul with 
the consideration of her mother's love, which she was 
perhaps about to lose forever. The dainty curtains at 
the windows, the scarf on the dresser, the chintz cover 
on a chair — every one her mother had planned. She 
could not remember how much her mother had scolded 
her, only how much she had loved her. At the moment 
of death the memory of love reigns triumphant over all 



else, but she still felt the dazed sense of injury that her 
father should have spoken so to her. She could hear 
the low murmur of voices in her mother's room across 
the hall. Suddenly the cries and moans ceased. A 
great joy irradiated the child. She said to herself that 
her mother was better, that the doctor had given her 
something to help her. 

She got off the bed, wrapped her little pink garment 
around her, and stole across the hall to her mother's 
room. The whole hall was filled with a strange, sweet 
smell which made her faint, but along with the faintness 
came such an increase of joy that it was almost ecstasy. 
She turned the knob of her mother's door, but, before 
she could open it, it was opened from the other side, 
and her father's face, haggard and resentful as she had 
never seen it, appeared. 

"Go back!" he whispered, fiercely. 

"Oh, father, is mother better?" 

"Go back!" 

Maria went back, and again the tempest of woe and 
injury swept over her. Why should her father speak 
to her so? Why could he not tell her if her mother 
were better? She sat in her little rocking-chair beside 
the window, and looked out at the night. She was con- 
scious of a terrible sensation which seemed to have its 
starting-point at her heart, but which pervaded her 
whole body, her whole consciousness. She was con- 
scious of such misery, such grief, that it was like a 
weight and a pain. She knew now that her mother was 
no better, that she might even die. She heard no more 
of the cries and moans, and somehow now, the absence 
of them seemed harder to bear than they themselves 
had been. Suddenly she heard her mother's door open. 
She heard her father's voice, and the doctor's in re- 
sponse, but she still could not distinguish a word. Pres- 
ently she heard the front door open and close softly. 
3 23 


Then her father hurried down the steps, and got into 
the doctor's buggy and drove away. It was dark, but 
she could not mistake her father. She knew that he 
had gone for another doctor, probably Dr. Williams, who 
lived in the next town, and was considered very skil- 
ful. The other doctor was remaining with her mother. 
She did not dare leave her room again. She sat there 
watching an hour, and a pale radiance began to appear 
in the east, which her room faced. It was like dawn in 
another world, everything had so changed to her. The 
thought came to her that she might go down-stairs and 
make some coffee, if she only knew how. Her father 
might like some when he returned. But she did not 
know how, and even if she had she dared not leave her 
room again. 

The pale light in the east increased, suddenly rosy 
streamers, almost like northern lights, were flung out 
across the sky. She could distinguish things quite 
clearly. She heard the rattle of wheels, and thought it 
was her father returning with Dr. Williams, but in- 
stead it was the milkman in his yellow cart. He car- 
ried a bottle of milk around to the south door. There 
was something horribly ghastly in that every-day oc- 
currence to the watching child. She realized the in- 
terminable moving on of things in spite of all individual 
sufferings, as she would have realized the revolution of 
a wheel of torture. She felt that it was simply hideous 
that the milk should be left at the door that morning, 
just as if everything was as it had been. When the 
milkman jumped into his wagon, whistling, it seemed 
to her as if he were doing an awful thing. The milk- 
wagon stopped at the opposite house, then moved on 
out of sight down the street. She wished to herself that 
the milkman's horse might run away while he was at 
some door. The rancor which possessed her father, 
the kicking against the pricks, was possessing her. She 



felt a futile rage, like that of some little animal trodden 
underfoot. A boy whom she knew ran past whoop- 
ing, with a tin-pail, after the milkman. Evidently his 
mother wanted some extra milk. The sun was reflected 
on the sides of the swinging pail, and the flash of light 
seemed to hurt her, and she felt the same unreasoning 
wrath against the boy. Why was not Willy Royce's 
mother desperately sick, like her mother, instead of 
simply sending for extra milk? The health and the 
daily swing of the world in its arc of space seemed to 
her like a direct insult. 

At last it occurred to her that she ought to dress 
herself. She left the window, brushed her hair, braid- 
ed it, and tied it with a blue ribbon, and put on her 
little blue gingham gown which she commonly wore 
mornings. Then she sat by the window again. It was 
not very long after that that she saw the doctor coming, 
driving fast. Her father was with him, and between 
them sat a woman. She recognized the woman at once. 
She was a trained nurse who lived in Edgham. 1 'They 
have got Miss Bell," she thought; " mother must be aw- 
ful sick." She knew that Miss Bell's wages were twenty- 
five dollars a week, and that her father would not have 
called her in except in an extreme case. She watched 
her father help out the woman, who was stout and mid- 
dle-aged, and much larger than he. Miss Bell had a 
dress-suit case, which her father tugged painfully into 
the house ; Miss Bell followed him. She heard his 
key turn in the lock while the doctor fastened his 

She saw the doctor, who was slightly lame, limp 
around to the buggy after his horse was tied, and take 
out two cases. She hated him while he did it. She felt 
intuitively that something terrible was to come to her 
mother because of those cases. She watched the doctor 
limp up the steps with positive malevolence. "If he is 

2 $ 


such a smart doctor, why doesn't he cure himself?" she 

She heard steps on the stairs, then the murmur of 
voices, and the sound of the door opening into her 
mother's room. A frightful sense of isolation came 
over her. She realized that it was infinitely worse to 
be left by herself outside, suffering, than outside hap- 
piness. She tried again to pray, then she stopped. 
"It is no good praying," she reflected, "God did not 
stop mother's pain. It was only stopped by that stuff 
I smelled out in the entry." She could not reason back 
of that ; her terror and misery brought her up against 
a dead wall. It seemed to her presently that she heard 
a faint cry from her mother's room, then she was quite 
sure that she smelled that strange, sweet smell even 
through her closed door. Then her father opened her 
door abruptly, and a great whiff of it entered with him, 
like some ghost of pain and death. 

"The doctors have neither of them had any break- 
fast, and they can't leave her," he said, with a jerk of 
his elbow, and speaking still with that angry tone tow- 
ards the unoffending child. "Can you make coffee?" 

"I don't know how." 

"Good for nothing!" said her father, and shut the 
door with a subdued bang. 

Maria heard him going down-stairs, and presently she 
heard a rattle in the kitchen, a part of which was under 
her room. She went out herself and stole softly down 
the stairs. Her father, with an air of angry helpless- 
ness, was emptying the coffee-pot into her mother's nice 
sink. Maria stood trembling at his elbow. "I don't 
believe that's where mother empties it," she ventured. 

"It has got to be emptied somewhere," said her 
father, and his tone sounded as if he swore. Maria 
shrank back. "They've got to have some coffee, any- 



Maria's father carried the coffee-pot over to the stove, 
in which a freshly kindled fire was burning, and set it 
on it, in the hottest place. Maria stealthily moved it 
back while he was searching for the coffee in the pantry. 
She did not know much, but she did know that an 
empty coffee-pot on such a hot place would come to 

Her father emerged from the pantry with a tin-canis- 
ter in his hand. "I've sent a telegram to our aunt 
Maria for her to come right on," said he, "but she can't 
get here before afternoon. I don't suppose you know 
how much coffee your mother puts in. I doa't suppose 
you know about anything." 

Maria realized dimly that she was a scape-goat, but 
there was such terrible suffering in her father's face that 
she had no impulse to rebel. She smelled of the canister 
which her father held out towards her with a nervously 
trembling hand. "Why, father, this is tea; it isn't 
coffee," said she. 

"Well, if you don't know anything that a big girl like 
you ought to know, I should think you might know 
enough not to try to make coffee with tea," said her 

Maria looked at her father in a bewildered sort of 
way. "I guess the coffee is in the other canister," said 
she, meekly. 

" Why didn't you say so then ?" demanded her father. 

Maria was silent. It seemed to her that her father 
had gone mad. Harry Edgham made a ferocious stride 
across the kitchen to the pantry. Maria followed him. 
"I guess that is the coffee canister," said she, pointing. 

"Why didn't you say so, then?" asked her father, 
viciously, and again Maria made no reply. Her father 
seized the coffee canister and approached the stove. " I 
don't suppose you know how much she puts in. I don't 
suppose you know anything," said he. 



"I guess she puts in about a cupful, " said Maria, 

" A cupful! with coffee at the price it is now ? I guess 
she doesn't," said her father. He poured the coffee-pot 
full of boiling water from the tea-kettle, then he tipped 
the coffee canister into his hand, and put one small pinch 
into the pot. 

"Oh, father," ventured Maria. "I don't believe — " 

"You don't believe what ?" 

"I don't believe that is enough." 

"Of course it's enough. Don't you suppose your 
father knows how to make coffee?" 

Her father set the coffee-pot on the stove, where it 
immediately began to boil. Then he carried back the 
canister into the pantry, and returned with a panful 
of eggs. "You can set the table, I suppose, anyhow?" 
said he. "You know enough to do as much as that?" 

"Yes, I can do that," replied Maria, with alacrity, 
and indeed she could. Her mother had exacted some 
small household tasks from her, and setting the table 
was one of them. She hurried into the dining-room and 
began setting the table with the pretty blue-flowered 
ware that her mother had been so proud of. She seemed 
to feel tears in her heart when she laid the plates, but 
none sprang to her eyes. Somehow, handling these fa- 
miliar inanimate things was the acutest torture. Pres- 
ently she smelled eggs burning. She realized that her 
father was burning up the eggs, in his utter ignorance 
of cookery. She thought privately that she didn't be- 
lieve but she could cook the eggs, but she dared not go 
out in the kitchen. Her father, in his anxiety, had 
actually reached ferocity. He had always petted her, 
in his easy-going fashion, now he terrified her. She 
dared not go out there. 

All at once, as she was getting the clean napkins from 
the sideboard, she heard the front door open, and one 



of the neighbors, Mrs. Jonas White, entered without 
knocking. She was a large woman and carelessly dress- 
ed, but her great face was beaming with kindness and 

"I just heard how bad your ma was," she said, in a 
loud whisper, " an* I run right over. I thought mebbe — 
How is she?" 

"She is very sick," replied Maria. She felt at first 
an impulse to burst into tears before this broadside of 
sympathy, then she felt stiff. 

"You are as white as a sheet," said Mrs. White. 
"Who is burnin' eggs out there?" She pointed to the 


" Lord! Who's up-stairs ?" 

"Miss Bell and the doctors. They've sent for Aunt 
Maria, but she can't come before afternoon." 

Mrs. White fastened a button on her waist. "Well, 
I'll stay till then," said she. "Lillian can get along 
all right." Lillian was Mrs. White's eighteen-year-old 

Mrs. White opened the kitchen door. "How is she?" 
she said in a hushed voice to Harry Edgham, frantically 
stirring the burned eggs, which sent up a monstrous 
smoke and smell. As she spoke, she went over to him, 
took the frying-pan out of his hands, and carried it over 
to the sink. 

"She is a very sick woman," replied Harry Edgham, 
looking at Mrs. White with a measure of gratitude. 

"You've got Dr. Williams and Miss Bell, Maria 


"Maria says her aunt is coming?" 
"Yes, I sent a telegram." 

"Well, I'll stay till she gets here," said Mrs. White, 
and again that expression of almost childish gratitude 



came over the man's face. Mrs. White began scraping 
the burned eggs off the pan. 

"They haven't had any breakfast," said Harry, look- 
ing upward. 

"And they don't dare leave her?" 


"Well, you just go and do anything you want to, 
Maria and I will get the breakfast." Mrs. White spoke 
with a kindly, almost humorous inflection. Maria felt 
that she could go down on her knees to her. 

"You are very kind," said Harry Edgham, and he 
went out of the kitchen as one who beats a retreat be- 
fore superior forces. 

"Maria, you just bring me the eggs, and a clean cup," 
said Mrs. White. "Poor man, trying to cook eggs!" 
said she of Maria's father, after he had gone. She was 
one of the women who always treat men with a sort of 
loving pity, as if they were children. "Here is some 
nice bacon/' said she, rummaging in the pantry. "The 
eggs will be real nice with bacon. Now, Maria, you look 
in the ice-chest and see if there are any cold potatoes 
that can be warmed up. There's plenty of bread in the 
jar, and we'll toast that We'll have breakfast in a 
jiffy. Doctors do have a hard life, and Miss Bell, she 
ought to have her nourishment too, if she's goin' to 
take care of your mother." 

When Maria returned from the ice-box, which stood 
out in the woodshed, with a plate of cold potatoes, Mrs. 
White was sniffing at the coffee-pot. 

"For goodness sake, who made this?" said she. 


" How much did he put in ?" 
" He put in a little pinch." 

"It looks like water bewitched," said Mrs. White. 
"Bring me the coffee canister. You know where that 
is, don't you?" 



"Yes, ma'am." 

Maria watched Mrs. White pour out the coffee which 
her father had made, and start afresh in the proper 

"Men are awful helpless, poor things," said Mrs. 
White. "This sink is in an awful condition. Did your 
father empty all this truck in it?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 

"Well, I must clean it out, as soon as I get the other 
things goin', or the dreen will be stopped up." Mrs. 
White's English was not irreproachable, but she was 

Maria continued to stand numbly in the middle of the 
kitchen, watching Mrs. White, who looked at her uneasily. 

"You must be a good girl, and trust in the Lord," 
said she, and she tried to make her voice sharp. " Now, 
don't stand there lookin' on; just fly round and do 
somethin'. I don't believe but the dinin'-room needs 
dustin'. You find somethin' and dust the dinin'-room 
real nice, while I get the breakfast." 

Maria obeyed, but she did that numbly, without any 
realization of the task. 

The morning wore on. The doctors, one at a time 
came down, and the nurse came down, and they ate a 
hearty breakfast. Maria watched them, and hated them 
because they could eat while her mother was so ill. 
Miss Bell also ate heartily, and she felt that she hated 
her. She was glad that her father refused anything 
except a cup of coffee. As for herself, Mrs. White made 
her drink an egg beaten up with milk. "If you won't 
eat your breakfast, you've got to take this," said she. 

Mrs. White took her own breakfast in stray bites, 
while she was clearing away the table. She stayed, 
and put the house in order, until Maria's aunt Maria 
arrived. One of the physicians went away . For a short 
time Maria's mother's groans and wailings recommenced, 



then the smell of chloroform was strong throughout the 

"I wonder why they don't give her morphine instead 
of chloroform?" said Mrs. White, while Maria was wip- 
ing the dishes. "It is dreadful dangerous to give that, 
especially if the heart is weak. Well, don't you be scart. 
I've seen folks enough worse than your mother git well." 

In the last few hours Maria's face had gotten a hard 
look. She no longer seemed like a little girl. After a 
while the doctors went away. 

"I don't suppose there is much they can do for a 
while, perhaps," remarked Mrs. White; "and Miss Bell, 
she is as good as any doctor." 

Both physicians returned a little after noon, and pre- 
viously Mrs. Edgham had made her voice of lamenta- 
tion heard again. Then it ceased abruptly, but there 
was no odor of chloroform. 

"They are giving her morphine now, I bet a cooky," 
Mrs. White said. She, with Maria, was clearing away 
the dinner-table then. "What time do you think your 
aunt Maria will get here?" she asked. 

"About half -past two, father said," replied Maria. 

"Well, I'm real glad you've got some one like her 
you can call on," said Mrs. White. "Somebody that 
'ain't ever had no family, and 'ain't tied. Now I'd be 
willin' to stay right along myself, but I couldn't leave 
Lillian any length of time. She 'ain't never had any- 
thing hard put on her, and she 'ain't any too tough. 
But your aunt can stay right along till your mother 
gits well, can't she?" 

"I guess so," replied Maria. 

There was something about Maria's manner which 
made Mrs. White uneasy. She forced conversation in 
order to make her speak, and do away with that stunned 
look on her face. All the time now Maria was saying 
to herself that her mother was going to die, that God 



could make her well, but He would not. She was con- 
scious of blasphemy, and she took a certain pleasure 
in it. 

Her aunt Maria arrived on the train expected, and 
she entered the house, preceded by the cabman bearing 
her little trunk, which she had had ever since she was a 
little girl. It was the only trunk she had ever owned. 
Both physicians and the nurse were with Mrs. Edgham 
when her sister arrived. Harry Edgham had been walk- 
ing restlessly up and down the parlor, which was a long 
room. He had not thought of going to the station to 
meet Aunt Maria, but when the cab stopped before the 
house he hurried out at once. Aunt Maria was dressed 
wholly in black — a black mohair, a little black silk cape, 
and a black bonnet, from which nodded a jetted tuft. 
"How is she?" Maria heard her say, in a hushed voice, 
to her father. Maria stood in the door. Maria heard her 
father say something in a hushed tone about an opera- 
tion. Aunt Maria came up the steps with her travelling- 
bag. Harry forgot to take it. She greeted Mrs. White, 
whom she had met on former visits, and kissed Maria. 
Maria had been named for her, and been given a silver 
cup with her name inscribed thereon, which stood on 
the sideboard, but she had never been conscious of any 
distinct affection for her. There was a queer, musty 
odor, almost a fragrance, about Aunt Maria's black 

"Take the trunk up the stairs, to the room at the 
left," said Harry Edgham, "and go as still as you 
can." The man obeyed, shouldering the little trunk 
with an awed look. 

Aunt Maria drew Mrs. White and Maria's father 
aside, and Maria was conscious that they did not want 
her to hear; but she did overhear — ". . . one chance in 
ten, a fighting chance," and "Keep it from Maria, her 
mother had said so." Maria knew perfectly well that 



that horrible and mysterious thing, an operation, which 
means a duel with death himself, was even at that mo- 
ment going on in her mother's room. She slipped away, 
and went up -stairs to her own chamber, and softly closed 
the door. Then she forgot her lack of faith and her 
rebellion, and she realized that her only hope of life was 
from that which is outside life. She knelt down beside 
her bed, and began to pray over and over, "O God, 
don't let my mother die, and I will always be a good 
girl! O God, don't let my mother die, and I will al- 
ways be a good girl!" 

Then, without any warning, the door opened and her 
father stood there, and behind him was her aunt Maria, 
weeping bitterly, and Mrs. White, also weeping. 

" Maria," gasped out Harry Edgham. Then, as Maria 
rose and went to him, he seized upon her as if she were 
his one straw of salvation, and began to sob himself, and 
Maria knew that her mother had died. 


Without any doubt, Maria's self -consciousness, which 
was at its height at this time, helped her to endure the 
loss of her mother, and all the sad appurtenances of 
mourning. She had a covert pleasure at the sight of 
her fair little face, in her black hat, above her black 
frock. She realized a certain importance because of 
her grief. 

However, there were times when the grief itself came 
uppermost ; there were nights when she lay awake cry- 
ing for her mother, when she was nothing but a bereft 
child in a vacuum of love. Her father's tenderness could 
not make up to her for the loss of her mother's. Very 
soon after her mother's death, his mercurial tempera- 
ment jarred upon her. She could not understand how he 
could laugh and talk as if nothing had happened. She 
herself was more like her mother in temperament — that 
is, like the New-Englander who goes through life with 
the grief of a loss grown to his heart. Nothing could 
exceed Harry Edgham's tenderness to his motherless 
little girl. He was always contriving something for 
her pleasure and comfort; but Maria, when her father 
laughed, regarded him with covert wonder and reproach. 

Her aunt Maria continued to live with them, and 
kept the house. Aunt Maria was very capable. It is 
doubtful if there are many people on earth who are not 
crowned, either to their own consciousness or that of 
others, with at least some small semblance of glories. 
Aunt Maria had the notable distinction of living on one 
hundred dollars a year. She had her rent free, but upon 



that she did not enlarge. Her married brother owned a 
small house, of the story-and-a-half type prevalent in 
New England villages, and Maria had the north side. 
She lived, aside from that, upon one hundred dollars a 
year. She was openly proud of it ; her poverty became, 
in a sense, her riches. " Well, all I have is just one hun- 
dred a year," she was fond of saying, "and I don't com- 
plain. I don't envy anybody. I have all I want." Her 
little plans for thrift were fairly Machiavellian; they 
showed subtly. She told everybody what she had for 
her meals. She boasted that she lived better than her 
brother, who was earning good wages in a shoe-fac- 
tory. She dressed very well, really much better than 
her sister-in-law. "Poor Eunice never had much man- 
agement," Maria was wont to say, smoothing down, as 
she spoke, the folds of her own gown. She never wore 
out anything; she moved carefully and sat carefully; 
she did a good deal of fancy-work, but she was always 
very particular, even when engaged in the daintiest toil, 
to cover her gown with an apron, and she always held 
her thin -veined hands high. She charged this upon 
her niece Maria when she had her new black clothes. 
"Now, Maria," said she, "there is one thing I want you 
to remember, here is nothin' — " (Aunt Maria elided her 
final "g" like most New-Englanders, although she was 
not deficient in education, and even prided herself upon 
her reading.) "Black is the worst thing in the world 
to grow shiny. Folks can talk all they want to about 
black bein' durable. It isn't. It grows shiny. And if 
you will always remember one thing when you are at 
home, to wear an apron when you are doin' anything, 
and when you are away, to hold your hands high, you 
will gain by it. There is no need of anybody gettin' 
the front breadths of their dresses all shiny by rubbin' 
their hands on them. When you are at school you 
must remember and hold your school-books so they 



won*t touch your dress. Then there is another thing 
you must remember, not to move your arms any more 
than you can help, that makes the waist wear out under 
the arms. There isn't any need of your movin' your 
arms much if any when you are in school, that I can 
see, and when you come home you can change your 
dress. You might just as well wear out your colored 
dresses when you are home. Nobody is goin' to see you. 
If anybody comes in that I think is goin' to mind, you 
can just slip up-stairs, and put on your black dress. It 
isn't as if you had a little sister to take your things 
— they ought to be worn out." 

It therefore happened that Maria was dressed the 
greater part of the time, in her own home, where she 
missed her mother most, in bright - colored array, and 
in funeral attire outside. She told her father about it, 
but he had not a large income, and it had been severely 
taxed by his wife's almost tragic illness and death. 
Besides, if the truth were known, he disliked to see 
Maria in mourning, and the humor of the thing also 
appealed to him. 

"You had better wear what your aunt says, dear. 
You feel just the same in your heart, don't you?" asked 
Harry Edgham, with that light laugh of his, which al- 
ways so shocked his serious little daughter. 

u Yes, sir," she replied, with a sob. 

44 Well, then, do just as your aunt says, and be a good 
little girl," said Harry, and he went hastily out on the 
porch with his cigar. 

Nothing irritated him so much as to see Maria weep 
for her mother. He was one of those who wrestle and 
fight against grief, and to see it thrust in his face by the 
impetus of another heart exasperated him, although he 
could say nothing. It may be that, with his tempera- 
ment, it was even dangerous for him to cherish grief, 
and, for that very reason, he tried to put his dead 



wife out of his mind, as she had been taken out of his 

"Well, men are different from women," Aunt Maria 
said to her niece Maria one night, when Harry had gone 
out on the piazza, after he had talked and laughed a 
good deal at the supper-table. 

Harry Edgham heard the remark, and his face took 
on a set expression which it could assume at times. He 
did not like his sister-in-law, although he disguised the 
fact. She was very useful. His meals were always on 
time, the house was as neatly kept as before, and Maria 
was being trained as she had never been in household 

Maria was obedient, under silent protest, to her aunt. 
Often, after she had been bidden to perform some house- 
hold task, and obeyed, she had gone to her own room 
and wept, and told herself that her mother would never 
have put such things on her. She had no one in whom 
to confide. She was not a girl to have unlimited inti- 
mates among other girls at school. She was too self- 
centred, and, if the truth were told, too emulative. 

"Maria Edgham thinks she's awful smart," one girl 
would say to another. They all admitted, even the 
most carping, that Maria was pretty. "Maria Edgham 
is pretty enough, and she knows it," said they. She was 
in the high school, even at her age, and she stood high 
in her classes. There was always a sort of moral strike 
going on against Maria, as there is against all superiority, 
especially when the superiority is known to be recognized 
by the possessor thereof. 

In spite of her prettiness, she was not a favorite even 
among the boys. They were, as a rule, innocent as well 
as young, but they would rather have snatched a kiss 
from such a pretty, dainty little creature than have had 
her go above them in the algebra class. It did not seem 
fitting. Without knowing it, they were envious. They 



would not even acknowledge her cleverness, not even 
Wollaston Lee, for whom Maria entertained a rudimen- 
tary affection. He was even rude to her. 

" Maria Edgham is awful stuck up," he told his mother. 
He was of that age when a boy tells his mother a good 
deal, and he was an only child. 

1 'She's a real pretty little girl, and her aunt says she 
is a good girl," replied his mother, who regarded the 
whole as the antics of infancy. 

The Lees lived near the Edghams, on the same street, 
and Mrs. Lee and Aunt Maria had exchanged several 
calls. They were, in fact, almost intimate. The Lees 
were at the supper - table when Wollaston made his 
deprecatory remark concerning Maria, and he had been 
led to do so by the law of sequence. Mrs. Lee had made 
a remark about Aunt Maria to her husband. " I believe 
she thinks Harry Edgham will marry her," she said. 

" That's just like you women, always trumping up 
something, of that kind," replied her husband. His 
words were rather brusque, but he regarded, while 
speaking them, his wife with adoration. She was a very 
pretty woman, and looked much yqunger than her age. 

"You needn't tell me," said Mrs. Lee. "She's just 
left off bonnets and got a new hat trimmed with black 
daisies; rather light mourning, I call it, when her sister 
has not been dead a year." 

"You spiteful little thing!" said her husband, still 
with his adoring eyes on his wife. 

"Well, it's so, anyway." 

"Well, she would make Harry a good wife, I guess," 
said her husband, easily; "and she would think more 
of the girl." 

It was then that Wollaston got in his remark about 
poor Maria, who had herself noticed with wonder that 
her aunt had bought a new hat that spring instead of 
a bonnet. 

4 39 


"Why, Aunt Maria, I thought you always wore a 
bonnet!" said she, innocently, when the hat came home 
from the milliner's. 

" Nobody except old women are wearing bonnets now," 
replied her aunt, shortly. " I saw Mrs. Rufus Jones, who 
is a good deal older than I, at church Sunday with a hat 
trimmed with roses. The milliner told me nobody of my 
age wore a bonnet." 

" Did she know how old you really are, Aunt Maria?" 
inquired Maria with the utmost innocence. 

Harry Edgham gave a little chuckle, then came to his 
sister-in-law's rescue. He had a thankful heart for even 
small benefits, and Aunt Maria had done a good deal 
for him and his, and it had never occurred to him that 
the doing might not be entirely disinterested. Besides, 
Aunt Maria had always seemed to him, as well as to his 
daughter, very old indeed. It might have been that the 
bonnets had had something to do with it. Aunt Maria 
had never affected fashions beyond a certain epoch, 
partly from economy, partly from a certain sense of 
injury. She had said to herself that she was old, she 
had been passed by; she would dress as one who had. 
Now her sentiments underwent a curious change. The 
possibility occurred to her that Harry might ask her to 
take her departed sister's place. She was older than 
that sister, much older than he, but she looked in her 
glass and suddenly her passed youth seemed to look 
forth upon her. The revival of hopes sometimes serves 
as a tonic. Aunt Maria actually did look younger than 
she had done, even with her scanty frizzes. She re- 
garded other women, not older than herself, with pompa- 
dours, and aspiration seized her. 

One day she went to New York shopping. She se- 
cretly regarded that as an expedition. She was terri- 
fied at the crossings. Stout, elderly woman as she was, 
when she found herself in the whirl of the great city, 


"'did she know how old you really are, aunt 



she became as a small, scared kitten. She gathered up 
her skirts, and fled incontinently across the streets, with 
policemen looking after her with haughty disapproba- 
tion. But when she was told to step lively on the 
trolley-cars, her true self asserted its endurance. "I 
am not going to step in front of a team for you or any 
other person," she told one conductor, and she spoke 
with such emphasis that even he was intimidated, and 
held the car meekly until the team had passed. When 
Aunt Maria came home from New York that particular 
afternoon, she had an expression at once of defiance and 
embarrassment, which both Maria and her father no- 

" Well, what did you see in New York, Maria ?" asked 
Harry, pleasantly. 

"I saw the greatest lot of folks without manners, that 
I ever saw in my whole life," replied Aunt Maria, 

Harry Edgham laughed. You'll get used to it," 
he said, easily. " Everybody who comes from New 
England has to take time to like New York. It is an 
acquired taste." 

"When I do acquire it, I'll be equal to any of them," 
replied Aunt Maria. "When I lose my temper, they 
had better look out." 

Harry Edgham laughed again. 

It was the next morning when Aunt Maria appeared 
at the early breakfast with a pompadour. Her thin 
frizzes were carefully purled over a mystery which she 
had purchased the afternoon before. 

Maria, when she first saw her aunt, stared open- 
mouthed ; then she ate her breakfast as if she had seen 

Harry Edgham gave one sharp stare at his sister-in- 
law, then he said: " Got your hair done up a new way, 
Jkayen't you, Maria?" 



"Yes, my hat didn't set well on my head with my 
hair the way I was wearing it," replied Aunt Maria 
with dignity; still she blushed. She knew that her own 
hair did not entirely conceal the under structure, and 
she knew, too, why she wore the pompadour. 

Harry Edgham recognized the first fact with simple 
pity that his sister-in-law's hair was so thin. He re- 
membered hearing a hair-tonic recommended by an- 
other man in the office, and he wondered privately if 
Maria would feel hurt if he brought some for her. Of 
the other fact he had not the least suspicion. He said : 
"Well, it's real becoming to you, Maria. I guess I like 
it better than the other way. I notice all the girls seem 
to wear their hair so nowadays." 

Aunt Maria smiled at him gratefully. When her sis- 
ter had married him, she had wondered what on earth 
she saw in Harry Edgham; now he seemed to her a very 
likeable man. 

When Maria sat in school that morning, her aunt's 
pompadour diverted her mind from her book ; then she 
caught Gladys Mann's wondering eyes upon her, and 
she studied again. 

While Maria could scarcely be said to have an inti- 
mate friend at school, a little girl is a monstrosity who has 
neither a friend nor a disciple ; she had her disciple, whose 
name was Gladys Mann. Gladys was herself a little out- 
side the pale. Most of her father's earnings went for 
drink, and Gladys's mother was openly known to take in 
washing to make both ends meet, and keep the girl at 
school at all; moreover, she herself came of one of the 
poor white families which flourish in New Jersey as well 
as at the South, although in less numbers. Gladys's 
mother was rather a marvel, inasmuch as she was will- 
ing to take in washing, and do it well too, but Gladys 
had no higher rank for that. She was herself rather a 
pathetic little soul, dingily pretty, using the patois of 



her kind, and always at the fag end of her classes. Her 
education, so far, seemed to meet with no practical re- 
sults in the child herself. Her brain merely filtered 
learning like a sieve; but she thought Maria Edgham 
was a wonder, and it was really through her, and her 
alone, that she obtained any education. 

"What makes you always say 'have went'?" Maria 
would inquire, with a half -kindly, half - supercilious 
glance at her satellite. 

"What had I ought to say," Gladys would inquire, 
meekly — "have came?" 

"Have gone," replied Maria, with supreme scorn. 

"Then when my mother has came home shall I say 
she has gone?" inquired Gladys, with positive abject- 

"Gladys, you are such a ninny," said Maria. "Why 
don't you remember what you learn at school, instead 
of what you hear at home?" 

" I guess I hear more at home than I learn at school," 
Gladys replied, with an adoring glance at Maria. 

Maria half despised Gladys, and yet she had a sort of 
protective affection for her, as one might have for a 
little clinging animal, and she confided more in her than 
in any one else, sure, at least, of an outburst of sympa- 
thv. Maria had never forgotten how Gladys had cried 
the first morning she went to school after her mother 
died. Every time Gladys glanced at poor little Maria, 
in her black dress, her head went down on a ring of her 
little, soiled, cotton-clad arms on her desk, and Maria 
knew that she was sorrier for her than any other girl 
in school. 

Gladys had a sort of innocent and ignorant imperti- 
nence; she asked anything which occurred to her, with 
no reflection as to its effect upon the other party. 

"Say, is it true?" she asked that very morning at 



"Is what true?" 

"Is your father goin' to marry her?" 
"Marry who?" Maria turned quite pale, and forgot 
her own grammar. 

"Why, your aunt Maria." 

"My aunt Maria? I guess he isn't!" Maria left 
Gladys with an offended strut. However, she reflected 
on Aunt Maria's pompadour. A great indignation seized 
her. After this she treated Aunt Maria stiffly, and she 
watched both her and her father. 

There was surely nothing in Harry Edgham's be- 
havior to warrant a belief that he contemplated marry- 
ing his deceased wife's sister. Sometimes he even, 
although in a kindly fashion, poked fun at her, in 
Maria's presence. But Aunt Maria never knew it; she 
was, in fact, impervious to that sort of thing. But 
Maria came to be quite sure that Aunt Maria had designs 
on her father. She observed that she dressed much 
better than she had ever done ; she observed the fairly 
ostentatious attention which she bestowed upon her 
brother-in-law, and also upon herself, when he was 
present. She even used to caress Maria, in her wooden 
sort of way, when Harry was by to see. Once Maria 
repulsed her roughly. "I don't like to be kissed and 
fussed over," said she. 

"You mustn't speak so to your aunt," said Harry, 
when Aunt Maria had gone out of the room. "I don't 
know what we should have done without her." 

"You pay her, don't you, father?" asked Maria. 

"Yes, I pay her," said Harry, "but that does not 
alter the fact that she has done a great deal which 
money could not buy." 

Maria gazed at her father with suspicion, which he 
did not recognize. 

It had never occurred to Harry Edgham to marry 
Aunt Maria. It had never occurred to him that she 



might think of the possibility of such a thing. It was 
now nearly a year since his wife's death. He himself 
began to take more pains with his attire. Maria noticed 
it. She saw her father go out one evening clad in a new, 
light-gray suit, which he had never worn before. She 
looked at him wonderingly when he kissed her good-bye. 
Harry never left the house without kissing his little 

" Why, you've got a new suit, father," she said. 

Harry blushed. "Do you like it, dear?" he asked. 

" No, father, I don't like it half as well as a dark one," 
replied. Maria, in a sweet, curt little voice. Her father 
colored still more, and laughed, then he went away. 

Aunt Maria, to Maria's mind, was very much dressed - 
up that evening. She had on a muslin dress with sprigs 
of purple running through it, and a purple ribbon around 
her waist. She made up her mind that she would stay 
up until her father came home, in that new gray suit, no 
matter what Aunt Maria should say. 

However, contrary to her usual custom, Aunt Maria 
did not mention, at half-past eight, that it was time for 
her to go to bed. It was half-past nine, and her father 
had not come home, and Aunt Maria had said nothing 
about it. She appeared to be working very interestedly 
on a sofa-cushion which she was embroidering, but her 
face looked, to Maria's mind, rather woe-begone, al- 
though there was a shade of wrath in the woe. When 
the little clock on the sitting-room shelf struck one for 
half-past nine, Maria looked at her aunt, wondering. 

4 'Why, I wonder where father has gone so late?" she 

Aunt Maria turned, and her voice, in reply, was both 
pained and pitiless. "Well, you may as well know first 
as last," said she, "and you'd better hear it from me 
than outside: your father has gone courtin'." 


Maria looked at her aunt with an expression of almost 
idiocy. For the minute, the term Aunt Maria used, espe- 
cially as applied to her father, had no more meaning for 
her than a term in a foreign tongue. She was very pale. 
" Courtin'," she stammered out vaguely, imitating her 
aunt exactly, even to the dropping of the final "g." 

Aunt Maria was, for the moment, too occupied w T ith 
her own personal grievances and disappointments to pay 
much attention to her little niece. " Yes, courtin'," she 
said, harshly. "I've been suspectin' for some time, an' 
now I know. A man, when he's left a widower, don't 
smarten up the way he's done for nothin'; I know it." 
Aunt Maria nodded her head aggressively, with a gesture 
almost of butting. 

Maria continued to gaze at her, with that pale, almost 
idiotic expression. It was a fact that she had thought 
of her father as being as much married as ever, even 
although her mother was dead. Nothing else had oc- 
curred to her. 

" Your father's thinkin' of gettin' married again," said 
Aunt Maria, "and you may as well make up your mind 
to it, poor child." The words were pitying, the tone 

"Who?" gasped Maria. 

"I don't know any more than you do," replied Aunt 
Maria, "but I know it's somebody." Suddenly Aunt 
Maria arose. It seemed to her that she must do some- 
thing vindictive. Here she had to return to her solitary 
life in her New England village, and her hundred dollars 



a year, which somehow did not seem as great a glory to 
her as it had formerly done. She went to the parlor 
windows and closed them with jerks, then she blew out 
the lamp. "Come," said she, "it's time to go to bed. 
I'm tired, for my part. I've worked like a dog all day. 
Your father has got his key, an' he can let himself in 
when he gets through his courtin'." 

Maria crept miserably — she was still in a sort of daze 
— up-stairs after Aunt Maria. 

"Well, good-night, " said Aun L , Maria. "You might 
as well make up your mind to it. I suppose it had to 
come, and maybe it's all for the best." Aunt Maria's 
voice sounded as if she were trying to reconcile the love 
of God with the existence of hell and eternal torment. 
vShe closed her door with a slam. There are, in some 
New England women, impulses of fierce childishness. 

Maria, when she was in her room, had never felt so 
lonely in her life. A kind of rage of loneliness pos- 
sessed her. She slipped out of her clothes and went 
to bed, and then she lay awake. She heard her father 
when he returned. The clock on a church which was 
near by struck twelve soon after. Maria tried to im- 
agine another woman in the house in her mother's 
place ; she thought of every eligible woman in Edgham 
whom her father might select to fill that place, but her 
little-girl ideas of eligibility were at fault. She thought 
only of women of her mother's age and staidness, who 
wore bonnets. She could think of only two, one a 
widow, one a spinster. She shuddered at the idea of 
either. She felt that she would much rather have had 
her father marry Aunt Maria than either of those 
women. She did not altogether love Aunt Maria, but 
at least she was used to her. Suddenly it occurred to 
her that Aunt Maria was disappointed, that she felt 
badly. The absurdity of it struck her strongly, but she 
felt a pity for her; she felt a common cause with her. 



After her father had gone into his room, and the house 
had long been silent, she got up quietly, opened her door 
softly, and crept across the hall to the spare room, which 
Aunt Maria had occupied ever since she had been there. 
She listened, and heard a soft sob. Then she turned the 
knob of the door softly. 

" Who is it?" Aunt Maria called out, sharply. 

Maria was afraid that her father would hear. 

''It's only me, Aunt Maria," she replied. Then she 
also gave a little sob. 

"What's the matter?" 

Maria groped her way across the room to her aunt's 
bed. "Oh, Aunt Maria, who is it?" she sobbed, softly. 

Aunt Maria did what she had never done before: she 
reached out her arms and gathered the bewildered little 
girl close, in an embrace of genuine affection and pity. 
She, too, felt that here was a common cause, and not 
only that, but she pitied the child with unselfish pity. 
"You poor child, you are as cold as ice. Come in here 
with me," she whispered. 

Maria crept into bed beside her aunt, but she would 
rather have remained where she was. She was a child 
of spiritual rather than physical affinities, and the con- 
tact of Aunt Maria's thin body, even though it thrilled 
with almost maternal affection for her, repelled her. 

Aunt Maria began to weep unrestrainedly , with a curious 
passion and abandonment for a woman of her years. 

"Has he come home?" she whispered. Aunt Maria's 
hearing was slightly defective, especially when she was 
nervously overwrought. 

"Yes. Aunt Maria, who is it ?" 

" Hush, I don't know. He hasn't paid any open court 
to anybody, that I know of, but — I've seen him lookin'." 
"At whom?" 
"At Ida Slome." 

" But she is younger than my mother was." 



"What difference do you s'pose tliat makes to a man. 
He'll like her all the better for that. You can thank 
your stars he didn't pitch on a school-girl, instead of 
the teacher." 

Maria lay stretched out stiff and motionless. She was 
trying to bring her mind to bear upon the situation. 
She was trying to imagine Miss Ida Slome, with her pink 
cheeks and her gay attire, in the house instead of her 
mother. Her head began to reel. She no longer wept. 
She became dimly conscious, after a while, of her aunt 
Maria's shaking her violently and calling her by name, 
but she did not respond, although she heard her 
plainly. Then she felt a great jounce of the bed as her 
aunt sprang out. She continued to lie still and rigid. 
She somehow knew, however, that her aunt was lighting 
the lamp, then she felt, rather than saw, the flash of it 
across her face. Her aunt Maria pulled on a wrapper 
over her night-gown, and hurried to the door. " Harry, 
Harry Edgham!" she heard her call, and still Maria could 
not move. Then she also felt, rather than saw, her fa- 
ther enter the room with his bath-robe slipped over his 
pajamas, and approach the bed. 

"What on earth is the matter?" he said. He also 
laid hands on Maria, and, at his touch, she became able 
to move. 

"What on earth is the matter?" he asked again. 

"She didn't seem able to speak or move, and I was 
scared," replied Aunt Maria, with a reproachful accent 
on the " I " ; but Harry Edgham was too genuinely con- 
cerned at his little daughter's white face and piteous 
look to heed that at all. 

He leaned over and began stroking her soft little 
cheeks, and kissing her. "Father's darling," he whis- 
pered. Then he said over his shoulder to Aunt Maria, 
"I wish you would go into my room and get that flask 
of brandy I keep in my closet." 



Aunt Maria obeyed. She returned with the flask and 
a teaspoon, and Maria's father made her swallow a few 
drops, which immediately warmed her and made the 
strange rigidity disappear. 

" I guess she had better stay in here with you the rest 
of the night, " said Harry to his sister-in-law; but little 
Maria sat up determinately. 

"No, I'm going back to my own room," she said. 

''Hadn't you better stay with your aunt, darling?" 

Harry Edgham looked shamefaced and guilty. He 
saw that his sister-in-law and Maria had been weeping, 
and he knew why, in the depths of his soul. He saw 
no good reason why he should feel so shamed and apolo- 
getic, but he did. He fairly cowered before the nervous 
little girl and her aunt. 

"Well, let father carry you in there, then," he said; 
and he lifted up the slight little thing, carried her across 
the hall to her room, and placed her in bed. 

It was a very warm night, but Maria was shivering as 
if with cold. He placed the coverings over her with 
clumsy solicitude. Then he bent down and kissed her. 
"Try and keep quiet, and go to sleep, darling," he said. 
Then he went out. 

Aunt Maria was waiting for him in the hall. Her face, 
from grief and consternation, had changed to sad and 
dignified resignation. 

41 Harry," said she. 

Harry Edgham stopped. 

" Well, sister," he said, with pleasant interrogation, 
although he still looked shamefaced. 

Aunt Maria held a lamp, a small one, which she was 
tipping dangerously. 

"Look out for your lamp, Maria," he said. 

She straightened the lamp, and the light shone full upon 
her swollen face, at once piteous and wrathful. "I only 
wanted to know when you wanted me to go?" she said. 



"Oh, Lord, Maria, you are going too fast! M replied 
Harry, and he fairly ran into his own room. 

The next morning when Maria, in her little black 
frock — it was made of a thin lawn for the hot days, and 
the pale slenderness of her arms and neck were revealed 
by the thinness of the fabric — went to school, she knew, 
the very moment that Miss Ida Slome greeted her, that 
Aunt Maria had been right in her surmise. For the first 
time since she had been to school, Miss Slome, who was 
radiant in a flowered muslin, came up to her and em- 
braced her. Maria submitted coldly to the embrace. 

"You sweet little thing," said Miss Slome. 

There was a man principal of the school, but Miss 
Slome was first assistant, and Maria was in most of her 
classes. She took her place, with her pretty smile as 
set as if she had been a picture instead of a living and 
breathing woman, on the platform. 

"You are awful sweet all of a sudden, ain't you?" 
said Gladys Mann in Maria's ear. 

Maria nodded, and went to her own seat. 

All that day she noted, with her sharp little conscious- 
ness, the change in Miss Slome's manner towards her. 
It was noticeable even in class. "It is true," she said 
to herself. "Father is going to marry her." 

Aunt Maria was a little pacified by Harry's rejoinder 
the night before. She begun to wonder if she had been, 
by any chance, mistaken. 

"Maybe I was wrong," she said, privately, to Maria. 
But Maria shook her head. 

"She called me a sweet little thing, and kissed me," 
said she. 

"Didn't she ever before?" 

"No, ma'am." 

"Well, she may have taken a notion to. Maybe I 
was mistaken. The way your father spoke last night 
sort of made me think so." 



Aunt Maria made up her mind that if Harry was out 
late the next Sunday, and the next Wednesday, that 
would be a test of the situation. The first time had 
been Wednesday, and Wednesday and Sunday, in all 
provincial localities, are the acknowledged courting 
nights. Of course it sometimes happens that an ardent 
lover goes every night; but Harry Edgham, being an 
older man and a widower, would probably not go to 
that extent. 

He soon did, however. Very soon Maria and her 
aunt went to bed every night before Harry came home, 
and Miss Ida Slome became more loving towards Maria. 

Wollaston Lee, boy as he was, child as he was, really 
suffered. He lost flesh, and his mother told Aunt Maria 
that she was really worried about him. " He doesn't eat 
enough to keep a bird alive, " said she. 

It never entered into her heart to imagine that Wol- 
laston was in love with the teacher, a woman almost if 
not quite old enough to be his mother, and was suffer- 
ing because of her love for Harry Edgham. 

One afternoon, when Harry's courtship of Ida Slome 
had been going on for about six weeks, and all Edg- 
ham was well informed concerning it, Maria, instead 
of going straight home from school, took a cross-road 
through some woods. She dreaded to reach home that 
night. It was Wednesday, and her father would be 
sure to go to see Miss Slome. Maria felt an inde- 
finable depression, as if she, little, helpless girl, were 
being carried so far into the wheels of life that it was 
too much for her. Her father, of late, had been kinder 
than ever to her; Maria had begun to wonder if she 
ought not to be glad if he were happy, and if she ought 
not to try to love Miss Slome. But this afternoon de- 
pression overcame her. She walked slowly between the 
fields, which were white and gold with queen's-lace and 
golden-rod. Her slender shoulders were bent a little. 

S 2 


She walked almost like an old woman. She heard a 
quick step behind her, and Wollaston Lee came up be- 
side her. She looked at him with some sentiment, even 
in the midst of her depression. The thought flashed 
across her mind, what if she should marry Wollaston at 
the same time her father married Miss Slome? That 
would be a happy and romantic solution of the affair. 
She colored sweetly, and smiled, but the boy scowled 
at her. 

4 'Say ?" he said. 

Maria trembled a little. She was surprised. 
"What?" she asked. 

"Your father is the meanest man in this town, he is 
the meanest in New Jersey, he is the meanest man in 
the whole United States, he is the meanest man in the 
whole world. ,, 

Again the boy scowled at Maria, who did not under- 
stand ; but she would not have her father reviled. 

"He isn't, so there!" she said. 

"He's going to marry teacher." 

" I don't see as he is mean if he is," said Maria, forced 
into justice by injustice. 

" I was going to marry her myself, if she'd only waited, 
and he hadn't butted in," said Wollaston. 

The boy gave one last scowl at the little girl, and it 
was as if he scowled at all womanhood in her. Then he 
gave a fling away, and ran like a wild thing across the 
field of golden-rod and queen's-lace. Maria, watching, 
saw him throw himself down prone in the midst of the 
wild-flowers, and she understood that he was crying 
because the teacher was going to marry her father. She 
went on, walking like a little old woman, and she had a 
feeling as if she had found a road in the world that led 
outside all love. 


Maria felt that she no longer cared about Wollaston 
Lee, that she fairly scorned him. Then, suddenly, some- 
thing occurred to her. She turned, and ran back as fast 
as she could, her short fleece of golden hair flying. She 
wrapped her short skirts about her, and wormed through 
the barbed-wire fence which skirted the field — the boy 
had leaped it, but she was not equal to that — and she 
hastened, leaving a furrow through the white-and-gold 
herbage, to the boy lying on his face weeping. She 
stood over him. 

"Say?" said she. 

The boy gave a convulsive wriggle of his back and 
shoulders, and uttered an inarticulate "Let me alone"; 
but the girl persisted. 

"Say?" said she again. 

Then the boy turned, and disclosed a flushed, scowling 
face among the flowers. 

"Well, what do you want, anyway?" said he. 

"If you want to marry Miss Slome, why don't you, 
instead of my father?" inquired Maria, bluntly, going 
straight to the point. 

"I haven't got any money," replied Wollaston, cross- 
ly; "all a woman thinks of is money. How'd I buy 
her dresses ?" 

"I don't believe but your father would be willing for 
you to live at home with her, and buy her dresses, till 
you got so you could earn yourself." 

"She wouldn't have me," said the boy, and he fairly 
dug his flushed face into the mass of wild-flowers. 



"You are a good deal younger than father," said 

"Your father he can give her a diamond ring, and I 
haven't got more'n forty cents, and I don't believe that 
would buy much of anything," said Wollaston, in muf- 
fled tones of grief and rage. 

Maria felt a shock at the idea of a diamond ring. Her 
mother had never owned one. 

"Oh, I don't believe father will ever give her a dia- 
mond ring in the world," said she. 

"She's wearing one, anyhow — I saw it," said Wollas- 
ton. "Where did she get it if he didn't give it to her, 
I'd like to know?" 

Maria felt cold. 

"I don't believe it," she said again. "Teacher is all 
alone in the school - house, correcting exercises. Why 
don't you get right up, and go back and ask her? I'll 
go with you, if you want me to." 

Wollaston raised himself indeterminately upon one 

"Come along," urged Maria. 

Wollaston got up slowly. His face was a burning red. 

"You are a good deal younger and better looking than 
father," urged Maria, traitorously. 

The boy was only a year older than Maria. He was 
much larger and taller, but although she looked a child, 
at that moment he looked younger. Both of his brown 
hands hung at his sides, clinched like a baby's. He had 
a sulky expression. 

"Come along," urged the girl. 

He stood kicking the ground hesitatingly for a mo- 
ment, then he followed the girl across the field. They 
went down the road until they came to the school-house. 
Miss Slome was still there ; her graceful profile could be 
seen at a window. 

Both children marched in upon Miss Slome, who was 


in a recitation-room, bending over a desk. She looked 
up, and her face lightened at sight of Maria. 
"Oh, it's you, dear?" said she. 

Maria then saw, for the first time, the white sparkle 
of a diamond on the third finger of her left hand. She 
felt that she hated her. 

"He wants to speak to you," she said, indicating 
Wollaston with a turn of her hand. 

Miss Slome looked inquiringly at Wollaston, who 
stood before her like a culprit, blushing and shuffling, 
and yet with a sort of doggedness. 

"Well, what is it, Wollaston?" she asked, patroniz- 

"I came back to ask you if — you would have me?" 
said Wollaston, and his voice was hardly audible. 

Miss Ida Slome looked at him in amazement ; she was 
utterly dazed. 

"Have you?" she repeated. "I think I do not quite 
understand you. What do you mean by 4 have you,' 

"Marry me," burst forth the boy. 

There was a silence. Maria looked at Miss Slome, 
and, to her utter indignation, the teacher's lips were 
twitching, and it took a good deal to make Miss Slome 
laugh, too; she had not much sense of humor. 

In a second Wollaston stole a furtive glance at Miss 
Slome, which was an absurd parody on a glance of a 
man under similar circumstances, and Miss Slome, who 
had had experience in such matters, laughed outright. 

The boy turned white. The woman did not realize 
it, but it was really a cruel thing which she was doing. 
She laughed heartily. 

"Why, my dear boy," she said. "You are too young 
and I am too old. You had better wait and marry 
Maria, when you are both grown up." 

Wollaston turned his back upon her, and marched 



out of the room. Maria lingered, in the vain hope that 
she might bring the teacher to a reconsideration of the 

"He's a good deal younger than father, and he's bet- 
ter looking,' ' said she. 
Miss Slome blushed then. 

"Oh, you sweet little thing, then you know — " she 

Maria interrupted her. She became still more traitor- 
ous to her father. 

" Father has a real bad temper, when things go wrong," 
said she. "Mother always said so." 

Miss Slome only laughed harder. 

"You funny little darling," she said. 

"And Wollaston has a real good disposition, his 
mother told my aunt Maria so," she persisted. 

The room fairly rang with Miss Slome's laughter, 
although she tried to subdue it. Maria persisted. 

"And father isn't a mite handy about the house," 
said she. "And Mrs. Lee told Aunt Maria that Wollas- 
ton could wipe dishes and sweep as well as a girl." 

Miss Slome laughed. 

"And I've got a bad temper, too, when I'm crossed; 
mother always said so," said Maria. Her lip quivered. 

Miss Slome left her desk, came over to Maria, and, in 
spite of her shrinking away, caught her in her arms. 

"You are a little darling," said she, "and I am not a 
bit afraid of your temper." She hesitated a moment, 
looking at the child's averted face, and coloring. "My 
dear, has your father told you?" she whispered; then, 
''I didn't know he had." 

"No, ma'am, he hasn't," said Maria. She fairly pull- 
ed herself loose from Miss Slome and ran out of the room. 
Her eyes were almost blinded with tears; she could 
scarcely see Wollaston Lee on the road, ahead of her, also 
running. He seemed to waver as he ran. Maria called 



out faintly. He evidently heard, for he slackened his 
pace a little ; then he ran faster than ever. Maria called 
again. This time the boy stopped until the girl came 
up. He picked a piece of grass, as he waited, and began 
chewing it. 

"How do you know that isn't poison?" said Maria, 

"Don't care if it is; hope it is," said the boy. 
"It's wicked to talk so." 
"Let it be wicked then." 

"I don't see how I am to blame for any of it," Maria 
said, in a bewildered sort of way. It was the cry of the 
woman, the primitive cry of the primitive scape-goat of 
Creation. Already Maria began to feel the necessity of 
fitting her little shoulders to the blame of life, which she 
had inherited from her Mother Eve, but she was as yet 
bewildered by the necessity. 

"Ain't it your father that's going to marry her?" 
inquired Wollaston, fiercely. 

"I don't want him to marry her any more than you 
do," said Maria. "I don't want her for a mother." 

" I told you how it would come out, if I asked 
her," cried the boy, still heaping the blame upon the 

"I would enough sight rather marry you than my 
father, if I were the teacher," said Maria, and her blue 
eyes looked into Wollaston's with the boldness of abso- 
lute guilelessness. 

"Hush!" responded Wollaston, with a gesture of dis- 
dain. "Who'd want you? You're nothing but a girl, 

With that scant courtesy Wollaston Lee resumed his 
race homeward, and Maria went her own way. 

It was that very night, after Harry Edgham had re- 
turned from his call upon Ida Slome, that he told Maria. 
Maria, as usual, had gone to bed, but she was not asleep. 




Maria heard his hand on her door-knob, and his voice 
calling out, softly: "Are you asleep, dear?" 
"No," responded Maria. 

Then her father entered and approached the child 
staring at him from her white nest. The room was full 
of moonlight, and Maria's face looked like a nucleus of 
innocence upon which it centred. Harry leaned over 
his little daughter and kissed her. 

"Father has got something to tell you, precious, " he 

Maria hitched away a little from him, and made no 

"Ida, Miss Slome, tells me that she thinks you know, 
and so I made up my mind I had better tell you, and 
not wait any longer, although I shall not take any 
decisive step before — before November. What would 
you say if father should bring home a new mother for 
his little girl, dear?" 

"I should say I would rather have Aunt Maria," 
replied Maria, decisively. She choked back a sob. 

"I've got nothing to say against Aunt Maria," said 
Harry. "She's been very kind to come here, and she's 
done all she could, but — well, I think in some ways, 
some one else — Father thinks you will be much hap- 
pier with another mother, dear." 

"No, I sha'n't." 

Harry hesitated. The child's voice sounded so like 
her dead mother's that he felt a sudden guilt, and almost 

"But if father were happier — you want father to be 
happy, don't you, dear?" he asked, after a little. 

Then Maria began to sob in good earnest. She 
threw her arms around her father's neck. "Yes, fa- 
ther, I do want you to be happy," she whispered, 

"If father's little girl were large enough to keep his 


house for him, and were through school, father would 
never think of taking such a step," said Harry Edgham, 
and he honestly believed what he said. For the moment 
his old love of life seemed to clutch him fast, and Ida 
Slome's radiant visage seemed to pale. 

"Oh, father," pleaded Maria. "Aunt Maria would 
marry you, and I would a great deal rather have 

"Nonsense," said Harry Edgham, laughing, with a 
glance towards the door. 

"Yes, she would, father; that was the reason she got 
her pompadour." 

Harry laughed again, but softly, for he was afraid of 
Aunt Maria overhearing. "Nonsense, dear," he said 
again. Then he kissed Maria in a final sort of way. 
"It will be all for the best," he said, "and we shall all 
be happier. Father doesn't think any the less of you, 
and never will, and he is never going to forget your own 
dear mother; but it is all for the best, the way he has 
decided. Now, good-night, darling, try to go to sleep, 
and don't worry about anything." 

It was not long before Maria did fall asleep. Her 
thoughts were in such a whirl that it was almost like 
intoxication. She could not seem to fix her mind on 
anything long enough to hold herself awake. It was 
not merely the fact of her father's going to marry again, 
it was everything which that involved. She felt as if 
she were looking into a kaleidoscope shaken by fate into 
endless changes. The changes seemed fairly to tire her 
eyes into sleep. 

The very next afternoon Aunt Maria went home. 
Harry announced his matrimonial intentions to her be- 
fore he went to New York, and she said immediately 
that she would take the afternoon train. 

" But," said Harry, " I thought maybe you would stay 
and be at the — wedding, Maria. I don't mean to get 



married until the November vacation, and it is only the 
first of September now. I don't see why you are in 
such a hurry/ ' 

"Yes," replied Aunt Maria, "I suppose you thought 
I would stay and get the house cleaned, and slave here 
like a dog, getting ready for you to be married. Well, I 
sha'n't; I'm tired out. I'm going to take the train this 

Harry looked helplessly at her. 

"I don't see what Maria and I are going to do then," 
said he. 

"If it wasn't for taking Maria away from school, I 
would ask her to come and make me a visit, poor child," 
said Aunt Maria, "until you brought her new ma home. 
I have only a hundred dollars a year to live on, but I'd 
risk it but I could make her comfortable ; but she can't 
leave her school." 

"No, I don't see how she can," said Harry, still help- 
lessly. "I thought you'd stay, Maria. There is the 
house to be cleaned, and some painting and papering. 
I thought—" 

"Yes, I'll warrant you thought," said Aunt Maria, 
with undisguised viciousness. "But you were mis- 
taken; I am not going to stay." 

"But I don't see exactly- — " 

"Oh, Lord, you and Maria can take your meals at 
Mrs. Jonas White's, she'll be glad enough to have you; 
and you can hire the cleaning done," said Aunt Maria, 
with a certain pity in the midst of her disappointment 
and contempt. 

It seemed to Maria, when her aunt went away. that 
afternoon, as if she could not bear it. There is a law 
of gravitation for the soul as well as for the body, and 
Maria felt as one who had fallen from a known quantity 
into strangeness, with a horrible shock. 

"Now, if she don't treat you well, you send word, 



and I'll have you come and stay with me," whispered 
Aunt Maria at the last. 

Maria loved Aunt Maria when she went away. She 
went to school late for the sake of seeing her off; and 
she was late in the geography class, but Miss Slome only 
greeted her with a smile of radiant reassurance. 

At recess, Gladys Mann snuggled up to her. 

"Say, is it true?" she whispered. 

"Is what true?" 

"Is your father goin' to get married to teacher?" 
"Yes," said Maria. Then she gave Gladys a little 
push. "I wish you'd let me alone," she said. 


Extreme youth is always susceptible to diversion 
which affords a degree of alleviation for grief. Many 
older people have the same facility of turning before 
the impetus of circumstances to another view of life, 
which serves to take their minds off too close concentra- 
tion upon sorrow, but it is not so universal. Maria, al- 
though she was sadly lonely, in a measure, enjoyed tak- 
ing her meals at Mrs. Jonas White's. She had never 
done anything like it before. The utter novelty of 
sitting down to Mrs. White's table, and eating in com- 
pany with her and Mr. Jonas White, and Lillian White, 
and a son by the name of Henry, amused her. Then, 
too, they were all very kind to her. They even made a 
sort of heroine of her, especially at noon, when her father 
was in New York and she, consequently, was alone. 
They pitied her, in a covert sort of fashion, because her 
father was going to get married again, especially Mrs. 
White and Lillian. Lillian was a very pretty girl, with 
a pert carriage of blond head, and a slangy readiness 
of speech. 

"Well, she's a dandy, as far as looks and dress go, 
and maybe she'll make you a real good mother-in-law," 
she said to Maria. Maria knew that Lillian should have 
said step -mother, but she did not venture to correct 

"Looks ain't everything," said Mrs. White, with a 
glance at her daughter. She had thought of the possi- 
bility of Harry Edgham taking a fancy to her Lillian. 

Mr. Jonas White, who with his son Henry kept a 


market, thereby insuring such choice cuts of meat, 
spoke then. He did not, as a rule, say much at table, 
especially when Maria and her father, who in his estima- 
tion occupied a superior place in society, were present. 

" Guess Mr. Edgham knows what he's about," said he. 
"He's going to marry a good-looking woman, and one 
that's capable of supportin' herself, if he's laid up or 
anything happens to him. Guess she's all right." 

''I guess so, too," said Henry White. Both nodded 
reassuringly at Maria, who felt mournfully comforted. 

"Shouldn't wonder if she'd saved something, too," 
said Mr. White. 

When he and his son were on their way back to the 
market, driving in the white-covered wagon with "J. 
White & Son" on the sides thereof, they agreed that 
women were queer. 

"There's your mother and Lillian, they mean all 
right," said Jonas White, "but they were getting that 
poor young one all stirred up." 

Maria never settled with herself whether the Whites 
thought she had a pleasant prospect before her or the 
reverse, but they did not certainly influence her to love 
Miss Ida Slome any more. 

Miss Slome was so kind to Maria, in those days, that 
it really seemed to her that she ought to love her. She 
and her father were invited to take tea at Miss Slome 's 
boarding - house, and after tea they sat in the little 
parlor which the teacher had for her own, and Miss 
Slome sang and played to them. She had a piano. 
Maria heard her and her father talking about the place 
in the Edgham parlor where it was to stand. Harry 
stood over Miss Slome as she was singing, and Maria 
observed how his arm pressed against her shoulder. 

After the song was done, Harry and Miss Slome sat 
down on the sofa, and Harry drew Maria down on the 
other side. Harry put his arm around his little daugh- 



ter, but not as if he realized it, and she peeked around 
and saw how closely he was embracing Miss Slome, 
whose cheeks were a beautiful color, but whose set smile 
never relaxed. It seemed to Maria that Miss Slome 
smiled exactly like a doll, as if the smile were made on 
her face by something outside, not by anything within. 
Maria thought her father was very silly. She felt scorn, 
shame, and indignation at the same time. Maria was 
glad when it was time to go home. When her father 
kissed Miss Slome, she blushed, and turned away her 

Going home, Harry almost danced along the street. 
He was as light-hearted as a boy, and as thoughtlessly 
in love. 

* ' Well, dear, what do you think of your new mother ?" 
he asked, gayly, as they passed under the maples, which 
were turning, and whose foliage sprayed overhead with 
a radiance of gold in the electric light. 

Then Maria made that inevitable rejoinder which is 
made always, which is at once trite and pathetic. "I 
can't call her mother," she said. 

But Harry only laughed. He was too delighted and 
triumphant to realize the pain of the child, although he 
loved her. "Oh, well, dear, you needn't until you feel 
like it," he said. 

"What am I going to call her, father?" asked Maria, 

" Oh, anything. Call her Ida." 

She is too old for me to call her that," replied Maria. 

"Old? Why, dear, Ida is only a girl." 

"She is a good deal over thirty," said Maria. "I call 
that very old." 

"You won't, when you get there yourself," replied 
Harry, with another laugh. "Well, dear, suit yourself. 
Call her anything you like." 

It ended by Maria never calling her anything except 



"you," and referring to her as "she" and "her." The 
woman, in fact, became a pronoun for the child, who 
in her honesty and loyalty could never put another 
word in the place which had belonged to the noun, and 
feel satisfied. 

Maria was very docile, outwardly, in those days, but 
inside she was in a tumult of rebellion. She went home 
with Miss Slome when she was asked, but she was never 
gracious in response to the doll-like smile, and the caress- 
ing words, which were to her as automatic as the smile. 
Sometimes it seemed to Maria that if she could only have 
her own mother scold her, instead of Miss Slome's 
talking so sweetly to her, she would give the whole 

For some unexplained cause, the sorrow which Maria 
had passed through had seemed to stop her own emo- 
tional development. She looked at Wollaston Lee some- 
times and wondered how she had ever had dreams about 
him ; how she had thought she would like him to go with 
her, and, perhaps, act as silly as her father did with Miss 
Slome. She remembered how his voice sounded when 
he said she was nothing but a girl, and a rage of shame 
seized her. "He needn't worry," she thought. "I 
wouldn't have him, not if he was to go down on his 
knees in the dust." She told Gladys Mann that she 
thought Wollaston Lee was a very homely boy, and not 
so very smart, and Gladys told another girl whose brother 
knew Wollaston Lee, and he told him. After a little, 
Wollaston and Maria never spoke when they met. The 
girl did not seem to see the boy ; she was more delicate 
in her manner of showing aversion, but the boy gazed 
straight at her with an insolent stare, as at one w T ho had 
dared him. He told the same boy who had told him 
what Maria had said, that he thought Amy Long was the 
prettiest girl in school, and Maria was homely enough to 
crack a looking-glass, and that came back to Maria. 



Everything said in the school always came back, by 
some mysterious law of gravitation. 

There was one quite serious difficulty involved in 
Aunt Maria's deserting her post, and that was, Maria 
was too young to be left alone in the house every night 
while her father was visiting his fiancee. She could not 
stay at Mrs. White's, because it was obviously unfair to 
ask them to remain up until nearly midnight to act as 
her guardian every, or nearly every, night in the week. 
However, Harry submitted the problem to Miss Slome, 
who solved it at once. She had, in some respects, a 
masterly brain, and her executive abilities were some- 
what thrown away in her comparatively humble sphere. 

"You must have the house cleaned," said she. "Let 
the woman you get to clean stay over until you come 
home. She won't be afraid to go home alone afterwards. 
Those kind of people never are. I suppose you will get 
Mrs. Addix?" 

"They tell me she is about the best woman for house- 
cleaning," said Harry, rather helplessly. He was so 
unaccustomed to even giving a thought to household 
details, that he had a vague sense of self-pity because 
he was now obliged to do so. His lost Abby occasion- 
ally, he believed, had employed this Mrs. Addix, but 
she had never troubled him about it. 

It thus happened that every evening little Maria 
Edgham sat guarded, as it were, by Mrs. Addix. Mrs. 
Addix was of the poor-white race, like the Manns — in 
fact, she was distantly related to them. They were 
nearly all distantly related, which may have accounted 
for their partial degeneracy. Mrs. Addix, however, was 
a sort of anomaly. Coming, as she did, of a shiftless, 
indolent family, she was yet a splendid worker. She 
seemed tireless. She looked positively radiant while 
scrubbing, and also more intelligent. The moment she 
stopped work, she looked like an automatic doll which 

6 7 


had run down: all consciousness of self, or that which 
is outside self, seemed to leave her face ; it was as if her 
brain were in her toiling arms and hands. Moreover, 
she always went to sleep immediately after Harry had 
gone and Maria was left alone with her. She sat in her 
chair and breathed heavily, with her head tipped idioti- 
cally over one shoulder. 

It was not very lively for Maria during those evenings. 
She felt afraid to go to bed and leave the house alone 
except for the heavily sleeping woman, whom her father 
had hard work to rouse when he returned, and who stag- 
gered out of the door, when she started home, as if she 
were drunk. She herself never felt sleepy ; it was even 
hard for her to sleep when at last her father had re- 
turned and she went to bed. Often after she had fallen 
asleep her heart seemed to sting her awake. 

Maria grew thinner than ever. Somebody called 
Harry Edgham's attention to the fact, and he got some 
medicine for her to take. But it was not medicine which 
she needed — that is, not medicine for the body, but for 
the soul. What probably stung her most keenly was 
the fact that certain improvements, for which her 
mother had always longed but always thought she could 
not have, were being made in the house. A bay-window 
was being built in the parlor, and one over it, in the 
room which had been her father's and mother's, and 
which Maria dimly realized was, in the future, to be 
Miss Ida Slome's. Maria's mother had always talked 
a good deal about some day having that bay-window. 
Maria reflected that her father could have afforded it 
just as well in her mother's day, if her mother had in- 
sisted upon it, like Miss Slome. Maria's mother had 
been of the thrifty New England kind, and had tried to 
have her husband save a little. Maria knew well enough 
that these savings were going into the improvements, 
the precious dollars which her poor mother had enabled 



her father to save by her own deprivations and toil. 
Maria heard her father and Miss Slome talk about the 
maid they were to have ; Miss Slome would never dream 
of doing her own work, as her predecessor had done. 
All these things the child dwelt upon in a morbid, aged 
fashion, and, consequently, while her evenings with 
Mrs. Addix were not enjoyable, they were not exactly 
dull. Nearly every room in the house was being newly 
papered and painted. Maria and Mrs. Addix sat first 
in one room, then in another, as one after another was 
torn up in the process of improvement. Generally the 
room which they occupied was chaotic with extra furni- 
ture, and had a distracted appearance which grated 
terribly upon the child's nerves. Only her own room 
was not touched. " You shall have your room all fixed 
up next year," her father told her." "I would have it 
done now, but father is going to considerable expense 
as it is." Maria assured him, with a sort of wild eager- 
ness, that she did not want her room touched. It 
seemed to her that if the familiar paper which her mother 
had selected were changed for something else, and the 
room altered, that the last vestige of home would disap- 
pear, that she could not bear it. 

" Well," said Harry, easily, "your paper will do very 
well, I guess, for a while longer; but father will have 
your room fixed up another year. You needn't think 
you are going to be slighted." 

That night, Maria and Mrs. Addix sat in Maria's room. 
The parlor was in confusion, and so was the dining-room 
and the guest-chamber; indeed, the house was at that 
time in the height of its repairs. That very day Maria's 
mother's room had been papered with a beautiful paper 
with a sheenlike satin, over which were strewn garlands 
of pink roses. Pink was Miss Slome's favorite color. 
They had a new hard -wood floor laid in that room, and 
there was to be a pink rug, and white furniture painted 

6 9 


with pink roses; Maria knew that her father and Miss 
Slome had picked it out. That evening, after her father 
had gone, and she sat there with the sleeping Mrs. Addix, 
a sort of frenzy seized her, or, rather, she worked herself 
up to it. She thought of what her mother would have 
said to that beautiful new paper, and furniture, and bay- 
window. Her mother also had liked pink. She thought 
of how much her mother would have liked it, and how 
she had gone without, and not made any complaint 
about her shabby old furnishings, which had that very 
day been sold to Mrs. Addix for an offset to her wages, 
and which Maria had seen carried away. She thought 
about it all, and a red flush deepened on her cheeks, and 
her blue eyes blazed. For the time she was abnormal. 
She passed the limit which separates perfect sanity 
from mania. She had some fancy-work in her hands. 
Mrs. White had suggested that she work in cross-stitch 
a cover for the dresser in her new mother's room, and 
she was engaged upon that, performing, as she thought, 
a duty, but her very soul rebelled against it. She made 
some mistakes, and whenever she did she realized with 
a sort of wicked glee that the thing would not be per- 
fect, and she never tried to rectify them. 

Finally, Maria laid her work softly on the table, beside 
which she was sitting. She glanced at Mrs. Addix, whose 
heavy, measured breathing filled the room, then she 
arose. She took the lamp from the table, and tiptoed 
out. Maria stole across the hall. The room which had 
been her father's and mother's was entirely empty, and 
the roses on the satiny wall-paper gleamed out as if they 
were real. There was a white-and-silver picture-moulding. 
Maria set her lamp on the floor. She looked at the great 
bay-window, she looked at the roses on the walls. Then 
she did a mad thing. The paper was freshly put on ; it 
was hardly dry. Maria deliberately approached the wall 
near the bay-window, where the paper looked somewhat 



damp; she inserted her slender little fingers, with a 
scratching of her nails under the edge, and she tore off 
a great, ragged strip. Then she took up her lamp and 
returned to her room. 

Mrs. Addix was still asleep. She had begun to snore, 
in an odd sort of fashion, with deep, regular puffs of 
breath ; it was like the beating of a drum to peace and 
rest, after a day of weary and unskilled labor unprofit- 
able to the soul. Maria sat down again. She took up 
her work. She felt very wicked, but she felt better. 



When Maria's father returned that night, he came, 
as usual, straight to the room wherein she and Mrs. Addix 
were sitting. Maria regarded her father with a sort of 
contemptuous wonder, tinctured with unwilling admira- 
tion. Her father, on his return from his evenings spent 
with Miss Ida Slome, looked always years younger than 
Maria had ever seen him. There was the humidity of 
youth in his eyes, the flush of youth on his cheeks, the 
triumph of youth in his expression. Harry Edgham, in 
spite of lines on his face, in spite, even, of a shimmer of 
gray and thinness of hair on the temples, looked as 
young as youth itself, in this rejuvenation of his affec- 
tion, for he was very much in love with the woman whom 
he was to marry. He had been faithful to his wife while 
she lived, even the imagination of love for another woman 
had not entered his heart. His wife's faded face had not 
for a second disturbed his loyalty ; but now the beauty 
of this other woman aroused within him long dormant 
characteristics, like some wonderful stimulant, not only 
for the body, but for the soul. When he looked in Ida 
Slome's beautiful face he seemed to drink in an elixir of 
life. And yet, down at the roots of the man's heart slept 
the memory of his wife; for Abby Edgham, with her sal- 
low, faded face, had possessed something which Ida Slome 
lacked, and which the man needed, to hold him. And 
always in his mind, at this time, was the intention to be 
more than kind to his motherless little daughter, not to 
let her realize any difference in his feeling for her. 

When he came to-night, he looked at the sleeping 



Mrs. Addix, and at Maria, taking painful stitches in her 
dresser cover, at first with a radiant smile, then with 
the deepest pity. 

"Poor little soul," he said. "You have had a long 
evening to yourself, haven't you?" 

"I don't mind," replied Maria. She was thinking of 
the torn wall-paper, and she did not look her father 
fully in the eyes. 

"Has she been asleep ever since I went?" inquired 
Harry, in a whisper. 

"Yes, sir." 

"Poor little girl. Well, it will be livelier by-and-by 
for you. We'll have company, and more going on." 
Harry then went close to Mrs. Addix, sitting with her 
head resting on her shoulder, still snoring with those 
puffs of heavy breath. "Mrs. Addix," he said. 

Mrs. Addix did not stir; she continued to snore. 

"Mrs. Addix!" repeated Harry, in a louder tone, but 
still the sleeping woman did not stir. 

"Good Lord, what a sleeper!" said Harry, still aloud. 
Then he shook her violently by the shoulder. "Come, 
Mrs. Addix," said he, in a shout; "I've got home, and 
I guess you'll want to be going yourself." 

Mrs. Addix moved languidly, and glanced up with a 
narrow slit of eye, as dull as if she had been drugged. 
Harry shook her again, and repeated his announcement 
that he was home and that she must want to go. • At 
last he roused her, and she stood up with a dazed ex- 
pression. Maria got her bonnet and shawl, and she 
gazed at them vaguely, as if she were so far removed 
from the flesh that the garments thereof perplexed 
her. Maria put on her bonnet, standing on tiptoe, and 
Harry threw the shawl over her shoulders. Then she 
staggered out of the room with a mumbled good- 

"Take care of the stairs, and do not fall," Harry said. 



He himself held the light for her, until she was safely 
down, and the outer door had closed after her. 

"The fresh air will wake her up," he said, laughing. 
"Not very lively company, is she, dear?" 

"No, sir," replied Maria, simply. 

Harry looked lovingly at her, then his eyes fell on the 
door of the room which had been papered that day. It 
occurred to him to go in and see how the new paper 

" Come in with father, and let's see the improvements," 
he said, in a gay voice, to Maria. 

Maria followed him into the room. It would have 
been difficult to say whether triumphant malice and 
daring, or fear, prevailed in her heart. 

Harry, carrying the lamp, entered the room, with 
Maria slinking at his heels. The first thing he saw was 
the torn paper. 

"Hullo!" said he. He approached the bay-window 
with his lamp. "Confound those paperers!" he said. 

For a minute Maria did not say a word. She was not 
exactly struggling with temptation; she had inherited 
too much from her mother's Puritan ancestry to make 
the question of a struggle possible when the duty of 
truth stared her, as now, in the face. She simply did 
not speak at once because the thing appeared to her 
stupendous, and nobody, least of all a child, but has a 
threshold of preparation before stupendous things. 

"They haven't half put the paper on," said her 
father. "Didn't half paste it, I suppose. You can't 
trust anybody unless you are right at their heels. Con- 
found 'em! There, I've got to go round and blow 'em 
up to-morrow, before I go to the city." 

Then Maria spoke. "I tore that paper off, father," 
said she. 

Harry turned and stared at her. His face went white. 
For a second he thought the child was out of her senses. 



"What?" he said. 

"I tore that paper off," repeated Maria. 
"You? Why?" 

The double question seemed to hit the child like a 
pistol-shot, but she did not flinch. 

"Mother never had paper as pretty as this," she said, 
"nor new furniture." Her eyes met her father's with 
indescribable reproach. 

Harry looked at her with almost horror. For the 
moment the child's eyes looked like her dead mother's, 
her voice sounded like her's. He continued gazing at 

"I couldn't bear it," said Maria. "She" [she meant 
Mrs. Addix] "was asleep. I was all alone. I got to 
thinking. I came in here and tore it off." 

Harry heaved a deep sigh. He did not look nor was 
he in the least angry. 

"I know your poor mother didn't have much," said 
he. He sighed again. Then he put his arm around Maria 
and kissed her. "You can have your room newly pa- 
pered now, if you want it," said he, in a choking voice. 
"Father will send you over to Ellisville to-morrow with 
Mrs. White, and you can pick out some paper your own 
self, and father will have it put right on." 

"I don't care about any," said Maria, and she began 
to sob. 

"Father's baby," said Harry. 

She felt his chest heave, and realized that her father 
was weeping as well as she. 

"Oh, father, I don't want new paper," she sobbed 
out, convulsively. "Mother picked out that on my 
room, and — and — I am sorry I tore this off." 

"Never mind, darling," said Harry. He almost car- 
ried the child back to her own room. " Now get to bed 
as soon as you can, dear," he said. 

After Maria, trembling and tearful, had undressed and 


was in bed, her father came back into the room. He 
held a small lamp in one hand, and a tumbler with some 
wine in the other. 

"Here is some of the wine your mother had," said 
Harry. "Now I want you to sit right up and drink 

"I — don't want it, father," gasped Maria. 
"Sit right up and drink it." 

Maria sat up. The tumbler was a third full, and the 
wine was an old port. Maria drank it. Immediately 
her head began to swim ; she felt in a sort of daze when 
her father kissed her, and bade her lie still and go right 
to sleep, and went out of the room. She heard him, with 
sharpened hearing, enter her mother's room. She re- 
membered about the paper, and the new furniture, and 
how she was to have a new mother, and how she had 
torn the paper, and how her own mother had never had 
such things, but she remembered through a delicious 
haze. She felt a charming warmth pervade all her 
veins. She was no longer unhappy. Nothing seemed 
to matter. She soon fell asleep. 

As for Harry Edgham, he entered the empty room 
which he had occupied with his dead wife. He set the 
lamp on the floor and approached the paper, which poor 
little Maria, in her fit of futile rebellion, had torn. He 
carefully tore off still more, making a clean strip of the 
paper where Maria had made a ragged one. When he 
had finished, it looked as if the paper had in reality 
dropped off because of carelessness in putting on. He 
gathered up the pieces of paper and stood looking about 
the room. 

There is something about an empty room, empty 
except of memories, but containing nothing besides, no 
materialities, no certainties as to the future, which is 
intimidating to one who stops and thinks. Harry Edg- 
ham was not, generally speaking, of the sort who stop 



to think; but now he did. The look of youth faded 
from his face. Instead of the joy and triumph which 
had filled his heart and made it young again, came re- 
membrance of the other woman, and something else, 
which resembled terror and dread. For the first time 
he deliberated whether he was about to do a wise thing: 
for the first time, the image of Ida Slome's smiling 
beauty, which was ever evident to his fancy, produced 
in him something like doubt and consternation. He 
looked about the room, and remembered the old pieces 
of furniture which had that day been carried away. 
He looked at the places where they had stood. Then 
he remembered his dead wife, as he had never remem- 
bered her before, with an anguish of loss. He said to 
himself that if he only had her back, even with her 
faded face and her ready tongue, that old, settled estate 
would be better for him than this joy, which at once 
dazzled and racked him. Suddenly the man, as he 
stood there, put his hands before his face; he was weep- 
ing like a child. That which Maria had done, instead of 
awakening wrath, had aroused a pity for himself and 
for her, which seemed too great to be borne. For the 
instant, the dead triumphed over the living. 

Then Harry took up the lamp and went to his own 
room. He set the lamp on the dresser, and looked at 
his face, with the rays thrown upward upon it, very 
much as Maria had done the night of her mother's 
death. When he viewed himself in the looking-glass, 
he smiled involuntarily; the appearance of youth re- 
turned. He curled his mustache and moved his head 
this way and that. He thought about some new clothes 
•which he was to have. He owned to himself, with per- 
fect ingenuousness, that he was, in his way, as a man, as 
..good -looking as Ida herself. Suddenly he remembered 
how Abby had looked when she was a young girl and 
he had married her; he had not compared himself so 



favorably with her. The image of his dead wife, as a 
young girl, was much fairer in his mind than that of Ida 

" There's no use talking, Abby was handsomer than 
Ida when she was young," he said to himself, as he 
began to undress. He went to sleep thinking of Abby 
as a young girl, but when once asleep he dreamed of 
Ida Slome. 


Harry and Ida Slome were to be married the Mon- 
day before Thanksgiving. The school would close on 
the Friday before. 

Ida Slome possessed, along with an entire self-satis- 
faction, a vein of pitiless sense, which enabled her to 
see herself as others might see her, and which saved 
her from the follies often incident to the self-satisfied. 
She considered herself a beauty; she thought, and with 
reason, that she would be well worth looking at in her 
wedding -clothes, but she also told herself that it was 
quite possible that some remarks might be made to her 
disparagement if she had the wedding to which her 
inclination prompted her. She longed for a white gown, 
veil, bridesmaids, and the rest, but she knew better. 
She knew that more could be made of her beauty and 
her triumph if she curtailed her wish. She realized that 
Harry's wife had been dead only a little more than a 
year, and that, although still a beauty, she was not a 
young girl, and she steered clear of criticism and ridicule. 

The ceremony was performed in the Presbyterian 
church Monday afternoon. Ida wore a prune - colored 
costume, and a hat trimmed with pansies. She was quite 
right in thinking that she was adorable in it, and there 
was also in the color, with its shade of purple, a delicate 
intimation of the remembrance of mourning in the midst 
of joy. The church was filled with people, but there were 
no bridesmaids. Some of Ida's scholars acted as ushers. 
Wollaston Lee was among them. To Maria's utter aston- 
ishment, he did not seem to realize his trying position as 



a rejected suitor. He was attired in a new suit, and wore 
a white rosebud in his coat, and Maria glanced at him 
with mingled admiration and disdain. 

Maria sat directly in front of the pulpit, with Mrs. 
Jonas White and Lillian. Mrs. White had a new gown 
of some thin black stuff, profusely ornamented with jet, 
and Lillian had a new pink silk gown, and wore a great 
bunch of roses. The situation, with regard to Maria, in 
connection with the wedding ceremony and the bridal 
trip, had been a very perplexing one. Harry had some 
western cousins, far removed, both by blood and distance. 
Aunt Maria and her brother were the only relatives on 
his former wife's side. Aunt Maria had received an in- 
vitation, both from Harry and the prospective bride, to 
be present at the wedding and remain in the house with 
Maria until the return of the bridal couple from their 
short trip. She had declined in a few stilted words, al- 
though Harry had sent a check to cover the expenses of 
her trip, which was returned in her letter. 

"The fact is, I don't know what to do with Maria," 
Harry said to Ida Slome, a week before the wedding. 
"Maria won't come, and neither will her brother's wife, 
and she can't be left alone, even with the new maid. 
We don't know the girl very well, and it won't do. 3 " 

Ida Slome solved the problem with her usual precision 
and promptness. 

"Then," said she, "she will have to board at Mrs. 
White's until we return. There is nothing else to do." 

It was therefore decided that Maria was to board at 
Mrs. White's, although it involved some things which 
were not altogether satisfactory to Ida. Maria could 
not sit all alone in a pew, and watch her father being 
married to his second wife, that was obvious; and, 
since Mrs. Jonas White was going to take charge of 
her, there was nothing else to do but to place herself 
and daughter in a position of honored intimacy. Mrs. 



Jonas White said quite openly that she was not in any 
need of taking boarders, that she had only taken Mr. 
Edgham and Maria to oblige, and that she now was to 
take poor little Maria out of pity. She, in reality, did 
pity Maria, for a good many reasons. She was a shrewd 
woman, and she gauged Miss Ida Slome pitilessly. How- 
ever, she had to admit that she had shown some con- 
sideration in one respect. In the midst of her teaching, 
and preparations for her wedding, she had planned a 
lovely dress for Maria. It was unquestionable but the 
realization of her own loveliness, and her new attire had 
an alleviating influence upon Maria. There was a faint 
buzz of admiration for her when she entered the church. 
She looked as if enveloped in a soft gray cloud. Ida had 
planned a dress of some gray stuff, and a soft gray hat, 
tied under her chin with wide ribbons, and a long gray 
plume floating over her golden-fleece of hair. Maria 
had never owned such a gown, and, in addition, she had 
her first pair of kid-gloves of gray, to match the dress, 
and long, gray coat, trimmed with angora fur. She was 
charming in it, and, moreover, the gray, as her step- 
mother's purple, suggested delicately, if one so chose 
to understand a dim yet pleasing melancholy, a shade, 
as it were, of remembrance. 

Maria had been dressed at home, under Mrs. White's 
supervision. Maria had viewed herself in the new long 
mirror in her mother's room, which was now resplendent 
with its new furnishings, and she admitted to herself that 
she was lovelier than she had ever been, and that she had 
Miss Ida Slome to thank for it. 

"I will say one thing," said Mrs. White, "she has 
looked out for you about your dress, and she has shown 
real good taste, too." 

Maria turned herself about before the glass, which 
reflected her whole beautiful little person, and she loved 
herself so much that for the first time it seemed to her 



that she almost loved Ida. She was blushing and smil- 
ing with pleasure. 

Mrs. White sighed. " Well, maybe it is for the best," 
said she. "One never knows about such things, how 
they will work out." 

Maria listened, with a degree of indignation and awe, 
to the service. She felt her heart swelling with grief at 
the sight of this other woman being made her father's 
wife and put in the place of her own mother, and yet, 
as a musical refrain is the haunting and ever-recurrent 
part of a composition, so was her own charming appear- 
ance. She felt so sure that people were observing her, 
that she blushed and dared not look around. She was, 
in reality, much observed, and both admired and pitied. 

People, both privately and outspokenly, did not believe 
that the step -mother would be, in a w T ay , good to the child 
by the former marriage. Ida Slomewas not exactly a 
favorite in Edgham. People acquiesced in her beauty 
and brilliancy, but they did not entirely believe in her 
or love her. She stood before the pulpit with her same 
perfect, set smile, displaying to the utmost the sweet 
curves of her lips. Her cheeks retained their lovely 
brilliancy of color. Harry trembled, and his face looked 
pale and self-conscious, but Ida displayed no such weak- 
ness. She replied with the utmost self -poise to the 
congratulations which she received after the ceremony. 
There was an informal reception in the church vestry. 
Cake and ice-cream and coffee were served, and Ida and 
Harry and Maria stood together. Ida had her arm 
around Maria most of the time, but Maria felt as if it 
were an arm of wood which encircled her. She heard 
Ida Slome addressed as Mrs. Edgham, and she wanted to 
jerk herself away and run. She lost the consciousness 
of herself in her new attire. 

Once Harry looked around at her, and received a 
shock. Maria's face looked to him exactly like her 



mother's, although the coloring was so different. Maria 
was a blonde, and her mother had been dark. There 
was something about the excitement hardly restrained 
in her little face, which made the man realize that the 
dead wife yet lived and reigned triumphant in her child. 
He himself was conscious that he conducted himself 
rather awkwardly and foolishly. A red spot burned on 
either cheek. He spoke jerkily, and it seemed to him 
that everything he said was silly, and that people might 
repeat it and laugh. He was relieved when it was all 
over and he and Ida were in the cab, driving to the sta- 
tion. When they were rolling rapidly through a lonely 
part of the road, he put his arm around his new wife, 
and kissed her. She received his kiss, and looked at 
him with her set smile and the set sparkle in her beauti- 
ful eyes. Again the feeling of almost terror which he 
had experienced the night when Maria had torn the 
paper off in her mother's room, came over him. How- 
ever, he made an effort and threw it off. 

"Poor little Maria looked charming, thanks to you, 
dearest/' he said, tenderly. 

"Yes, I thought she did. That gray suit was just the 
thing for her, wasn't it ? I never saw her look so pretty 
before," returned Ida, and her tone was full of self- 
praise for her goodness to Maria. 

"Well, she will be a great deal happier," said Harry. 
"It was a lonesome life for a child to lead." 

Harry Edgham had not an atom of tact. Any woman 
might have judged from his remarks that she had been 
married on account of Maria; but Ida only responded 
with her never-changing smile. 

"Yes," said she, " I think myself that she will be much 
happier, dear." Privately she rather did resent her 
husband's speech, but she never lost sight of the fact 
that a smile is more becoming than a frown. 

Maria remained boarding at Mrs. Jonas White's until 


her father and his new wife returned. She did not have 
a very happy time. In the first place, the rather effu- 
sive pity with which she was treated by the female por- 
tion of the White family, irritated her. She began to 
consider that, now her father had married, his wife was 
a member of her family, and not to be decried. Maria 
had a great deal of pride when those belonging to her 
were concerned. One day she retorted pertly when 
some covert remark, not altogether to her new mother's 
laudation, had been made by Lillian. 

"I think she is perfectly lovely," said she, with a toss 
of her head. 

Lillian and her mother looked at each other. Then 
Lillian, who was not her match for pertness, spoke. 

44 Have you made up your mind what to call her?" 
she asked. "Mummer, or mother?" 

"I shall call her whatever I please," replied Maria; 
"it is nobody's business." Then she arose and went out 
of the room, with an absurd little strut. 

"Lord a-massy!" observed Mrs. Jonas White, after 
she had gone. 

" I guess Ida Slome will have her hands full with that 
young one," observed Lillian. 

"I guess she will, too," assented her mother. "She 
was real sassy. Well, her mother had a temper of her 
own; guess she's got some of it." 

Mr. Jonas White and Henry were a great alleviation 
of Maria's desolate estate during her father's absence. 
Somehow, the men seemed to understand better than 
the women just how she felt: that she would rather be 
let alone, now it was all over, than condoled with and 
pitied. Mr. Henry White took one of the market horses, 
hitched him into a light buggy, and took Maria out 
riding two evenings, when the market was closed. It 
was a warm November, and the moon was full. Maria 
quite enjoyed her drive with Mr. Henry White, and he 



never said one word about her father's marriage, and her 
new mother — her pronoun of a mother — all the way. 
Mr. Henry White had too long a neck, and too large a 
mouth, which was, moreover, too firmly set, otherwise 
Maria felt that, with slight encouragement, she might 
fall in love with him, since he showed so much delicacy. 
She counted up the probable difference in their ages, 
and estimated it as no more than was between her 
father and Her. However, Mr. Henry White gave her 
so little encouragement, and his neck was so much too 
long above his collar, that she decided to put it out of 
her mind. 

"Poor little thing, ,, Mr. Henry White said to his 
father, next day, "she's about wild, with mother and 
Lill harping on it all the time." 

"They mean well," said Mr. White. 

"Of course they do; but who's going to stand this 
eternal harping ? If women folks would only stop being 
so durned kind, and let folks alone sometimes, they'd 
be a durned sight kinder." 

"That's so," said Mr. Jonas White. 

Maria's father and his bride reached home about 
seven on the Monday night after Thanksgiving. Maria 
re-entered her old home in the afternoon. Miss Zella 
Holmes, who was another teacher of hers, went with 
her. Ida had requested her to open the house. Ida's 
former boarding-house mistress had cooked a large 
turkey, and made some cakes and pies and bread. Miss 
Zella Holmes drove around for Maria in a livery car- 
riage, and all these supplies were stowed in beside them. 
On the way they stopped at the station for the new 
maid, whose train was due then. She was a Hungarian 
girl, with a saturnine, almost savage visage. Maria felt 
an awe of her, both because she was to be their maid, 
and they had never kept one, and because of her per- 



When they reached home, Miss Zella Holmes, who was 
very lively and quick in her ways, though not at all 
pretty, gave orders to the maid in a way which astonished 
Maria. She was conscious of an astonishment at every- 
thing, which had not before possessed her. She looked 
at the kitchen, the dining-room, the sitting-room, the 
parlor, all the old apartments, and it was exactly as if 
she saw old friends with new heads. The sideboard in 
the dining-room glittered with the wedding silver and 
cut-glass. New pictures hung on the sitting-room and 
parlor walls, beside the new paper. Wedding gifts lay on 
the tables. There had been many wedding gifts. Miss 
Zella Holmes flew about the house, with the saturnine 
Hungarian in attendance. Maria, at Miss Holmes's bid- 
ding, began to lay the table. She got out some new 
table-linen, napkins, and table-cloth, which had been a 
wedding present. She set the table with some new china. 
She looked, with a numb feeling, at her mother's poor 
old blue-and -white dishes, which were put away on the 
top shelves. 

"I think it would be a very good idea to pack away 
those dishes altogether, and put them in a box up in the 
garret," said Miss Holmes. Then she noticed Maria's 
face. "They will come in handy for your wedding out- 
fit, little girl," she added, kindly and jocosely, but Maria 
did not laugh. 

Every now and then Maria looked at the clock on 
the parlor shelf, that was also new. The old sitting-room 
clock had disappeared; Maria did not know where, but 
she missed the face of it as if it had been the face of a 
friend. Miss Holmes also glanced frequently at the new 
clock. There arose a fragrant odor of warming potatoes 
and gravy from the kitchen. 

"It is almost time for them," said Miss Holmes. 

She was very much dressed -up, Maria thought. She 
wore a red silk gown with a good many frills about the 



shoulders. She was very slight, and affected frills to 
conceal it. Out of this mass of red frills arose her little, 
alert head and face, homely, but full of vivacity. Maria 
thought her very nice. She would have liked her better 
for a mother than Ida. When Miss Zella Holmes smiled 
it seemed to come from within . 

At last a carriage came rapidly up to their door, and 
Miss Holmes sprang to open it. Maria remained in the 
dining-room. Suddenly an uncanny fancy had seized 
her and terrified her. Suppose her father should look 
different, like everything else? Suppose it should be to 
her as if he had a new head ? She therefore remained 
in the dining-room, trembling. She heard her father's 
voice, loud and merry. " Where is Maria?" Still, Maria 
did not stir. Then her father came hurrying into the 
room, and behind him she who had been Ida Slome, ra- 
diant and triumphant, in her plum-colored array, with 
the same smile with which she had departed on her beau- 
tiful face. Harry caught Maria in his arms, rubbed his 
cold face against her soft little one, and kissed her. 

"How is father's little girl?" he asked, with a break 
in his voice. 

"Pretty well, thank you," replied Maria. She gave 
a helpless little cling to her father, then she stood 

"Speak to your new mother, darling," said Harry. 

"How do You doV said Maria, obediently, and Ida 
said, "You darling," and then kissed her exactly as if 
she had been an uncommonly well-constructed doll, 
with a clock-work system which fitted her to take such 
a part with perfect accuracy. 

Harry watched his wife and daughter rather anx- 
iously. He seized the first opportunity to ask Maria, 
aside, if she had been well, and if she had been happy 
and comfortable at Mrs. White's. Then he wound up 
with the rather wistful inquiry : 

7 87 


"You are going to love your new mother, aren't you, 
darling ? Don't you think she is lovely ?" 

Ida had gone up-stairs with Miss Holmes, to remove 
her wraps. 

"Yes, sir, I think She is lovely," replied Maria. 


Ida Edgham was, in some respects, a peculiar person- 
ality. She was as much stronger, in another way, than 
her husband, as her predecessor had been. She was 
that anomaly: a creature of supreme self-satisfaction, 
who is yet aware of its own limits. She was so unemo- 
tional as to be almost abnormal, but she had head 
enough to realize the fact that absolute unemotionless- 
ness in a woman detracts from her charm. She there- 
fore simulated emotion. She had a spiritual make-up, a 
panoply of paint and powder for the soul, as truly as 
any actress has her array of cosmetics for her face. She 
made no effort to really feel, she knew that was entirely 
useless, but she observed all the outward signs and sem- 
blance of feeling more or less successfully. She knew that 
to take up her position in Harry Edgham's house like a 
marble bust of Diana, which had been one of her wed- 
ding-presents, would not be to her credit. She therefore 
put herself to the pace which she would naturally be 
expected to assume in her position. She showed every- 
body who called her new possessions, with a semblance 
of delight which was quite perfect. She was, in reality, 
less deceptive in that respect than in others. She had 
a degree of the joy of possession, or she would not have 
been a woman at all, and, in fact, would not have mar- 
ried. She had wanted a home and a husband; not as 
some women want them, for the legitimate desire for 
love and protection, but because she felt a degree of 
mortification on account of her single estate. She had 
had many admirers, but, although no one ever knew it, 

8 9 


not one offer of marriage, the acceptance of which would 
not have been an absurdity, before poor Harry Edg- 
ham. She was not quite contented to accept him. She 
had hoped for something better ; but he was good-look- 
ing, and popular, and his social standing, in her small 
world, was good. He was an electrical engineer, with 
an office in the city, and had a tolerably good income, 
although his first wife's New England thrift had com- 
pelled him to live parsimoniously. 

Ida made up her mind from the first that thrift, after 
the plan of the first woman, should not be observed in 
her household. Without hinting to that effect, or with- 
out Harry's recognizing it, she so managed that within 
a few weeks after her marriage he put an insurance on 
his life, which would insure her comfort in case she out- 
lived him. He owned his house, and she had herself 
her little savings, well invested. She then considered 
that they could live up to Harry's income without much 
risk, and she proceeded to do so. It was not long before 
the saturnine Hungarian, who could have provided a 
regiment of her own countrymen with the coarse food of 
her race, but seemed absolutely incapable of carrying 
out American ideas of good cookery, was dismissed, and 
a good cook, at a price which at first staggered Harry, 
installed in her place. Then a young girl was found to 
take care of the bedrooms, and wait on table, attired 
in white gowns and aprons and caps. 

Ida had a reception two weeks after her return from 
her bridal trip, and an elaborate menu was provided by 
a caterer from New York. Maria, in a new white gown, 
with a white bow on her hair, sat at one end of the 
dining-table, shining with cut-glass and softly lighted 
with wax-candles under rose-colored shades in silver 
candlesticks, and poured chocolate, while another young 
girl opposite dipped lemonade from a great cut-glass 
punch-bowl, winch had been one of the wedding -pres- 



ents. The table was strewn with pink - and - white 
carnations. Maria caught a glimpse now and then of 
her new mother, in a rose-colored gown, with a bunch 
of pink roses on her breast, standing with her father 
receiving their guests, and she could scarcely believe 
that she was awake and it was really happening. She 
began to take a certain pleasure in the excitement. 
She heard one woman say to another how pretty she 
was, "poor little thing," and her heart throbbed with 
satisfaction. She felt at once beautiful and appealing 
to other people, because of her misfortunes. She turned 
the chocolate carefully, and put some whipped - cream 
on top of each dainty cup; and, for the first time since 
her father's marriage, she was not consciously unhappy. 
She glanced across the table at the other little girl, 
Amy Long, who was dark, and wore a pink bow on her 
hair, and she was sure that she herself was much prettier. 
Then, too, Amy had not the sad distinction of having 
lost her mother, and having a step-mother thrust upon 
her in a year's time. It is true that once when Amy's 
mother, large and portly in a blue satin which gave out 
pale white lights on the curves of her great arms and 
back, and whose roseate face looked forth from a fichu 
of real lace pinned with a great pearl brooch, came up 
behind her little daughter and straightened the pink 
bow on her hair, Maria felt a cruel little pang. There 
was something about the look of loving admiration 
which Mrs. Long gave her daughter that stung Maria's 
heart with a sense of loss. She felt that if her new mother 
should straighten out her white bow and regard her with 
admiration, it would be because of her own self, and the 
credit which she, Maria, reflected upon her. Still, she 
reflected how charming she looked. Self-love is much 
better than nothing for a lonely soul. 

That night Maria realized that she was in the second 
place, so far as her father was concerned. Ida, in her 



rose-colored robes, dispensing hospitality in his home, 
took up his whole attention. She was really radiant. 
She sang and played twice for the company, and her 
perfectly true high soprano filled the whole house. To 
Maria it sounded as meaningless as the trill of a canary- 
bird. In fact, when it came to music, Ida, although 
she had a good voice, had the mortification of realizing 
that her simulation of emotion failed her. Harry did 
not like his wife's singing. He felt like a traitor, but he 
could not help realizing that he did not like it. But 
the moment Ida stopped singing, he looked at her, and 
fairly wondered that he had married such a beautiful 
creature. He felt humble before her. Humility was not 
a salutary condition of mind for him, but this woman 
inspired it now, and would still more in the future. In 
spite of his first wife's scolding, her quick temper, he 
had always felt himself as good as she was. The mere 
fact of the temper itself had served to give him a sense 
of equality and, perhaps, superiority, but this woman 
never showed temper. She never failed to respond with 
her stereotyped smile to everything that was said. She 
seemed to have no faults at all, to realize none in herself, 
and not to admit the possibility of any one else doing so. 

Harry felt himself distinctly in the wrong beside such 
unquestionable right. He even did not think himself 
so good-looking as he had formerly done. It seemed 
to him that he looked much older than Ida. When they 
went out together he felt like a lackey in attendance on 
an empress. In his own home, it came to pass that he 
seldom made a remark when guests were present with- 
out a covert glance at his wife to see what she thought 
of it. He could always tell what she thought, even if 
her face did not change and she made no comment 
neither then nor afterwards, and she always made him 
know, in some subtle fashion, when he had said any- 
thing wrong. 



Maria felt very much in the same way at first, but 
she fought involuntarily against it. She had a good 
deal of her mother in her. Finally, she never looked 
at Ida when she said anything. She was full of rebellion 
although she was quiet and obedient, and very unob- 
trusive, in the new state of things. 

Ida entertained every Tuesday evening. There was 
not a caterer as at the first reception, but Ida herself 
cooked dainty messes in a silver chafing-dish, and Maria 
and the white-capped little maid passed things. It was 
not especially expensive, but people in Edgham began 
to talk. They said Harry was living beyond his means; 
but Ida kept within his income. She had too good a 
head for reckless extravagance, although she loved ad- 
miration and show. When there were no guests in the 
house, Maria used to go to her own room early of an 
evening, and read until it was time to go to bed. She 
realized that her father and Ida found her somewhat 
superfluous, although Ida never made any especial ef- 
fort to entertain her father that Maria could see. She 
was fond of fancy-work, and was embroidering a silk 
gown for herself. She embroidered while Harry read 
the paper. She did not talk much. Maria used to 
wonder that her father did not find it dull when he and 
She were alone together of an evening. She looked at 
him reading his paper, with frequent glances of admira- 
tion over it at his beautiful wife, and thought that in 
his place, she should much prefer a woman like her 
mother, who had kept things lively, even without com- 
pany, and even in a somewhat questionable fashion. 
However, Harry and Ida themselves went out a good 
deal. People in Edgham aped city society, they even 
talked about the "four hundred.' ' The newly wedded 
pair were frequent guests of honor at dinners and recep- 
tions, and Ida herself was a member of the Edgham's 
Woman's Club, and that took her out a good deal. 



Maria was rather lonely. Finally the added state and 
luxury of her life, which had at first pleased her, failed 
to do so. She felt that she hated all the new order of 
things, and her heart yearned for the old. She began 
to grow thin; she did not sleep much nor sleep well. 
She felt tired all the time. One day her father noticed 
her changed looks. 

" Why, Maria is getting thin!" said he. 

"I think it is because she is growing tall," said Ida. 
" Everybody seems thin when they are growing tall. I 
did myself. I was much thinner than Maria at her age." 
She looked at Maria with her invariable smile as she 

"She looks very thin to me," Harry said, anxiously. 

He himself looked thin and older. An anxious wrinkle 
had deepened between his eyes. It was June, and the 
days were getting warm. He was anxious about Ida's 
health also. Ida was not at all anxious. She was per- 
fectly placid. It did not seem to her that an overruling 
Providence could possibly treat her unkindly. She was 
rather annoyed at times, but still never anxious, and 
utterly satisfied with herself to that extent that it pre- 
cluded any doubt as to the final outcome of everything. 

Maria continued to lose flesh. A sentimental interest 
in herself and her delicacy possessed her. She used to 
look at her face, which seemed to her more charming 
than ever, although so thin, in the glass, and reflect, 
with a pleasant acquiescence, on an early death. She 
even spent some time in composing her own epitaph, 
and kept it carefully hidden away in a drawer of her 
dresser, under some linen. 

Maria felt a gloomy pride when the doctor, who came 
frequently to see Ida, was asked to look at her; she felt 
still more triumphant when he expressed it as his opinion 
that she ought to have a change of air the moment school 
closed. The doctor said Maria was running down, which 



seemed to her a very interesting state of things, and one 
which ought to impress people. She told Gladys Mann 
the next day at school. 

"The doctor says I'm running down," said she. 

"You do look awful bad," replied Gladys. 

After recess Maria saw Gladys with her face down on 
her desk, weeping. She knew that she was weeping 
because she looked so badly and was running down. 
She glanced across at Wollaston Lee, and wondered if 
he had noticed how badly she looked, and yet how 
charming. All at once the boy shot a glance at her 
in return ; then he blushed and scowled and took up his 
book. It all comforted Maria in the midst of her langour 
and her illness, which was negative and unattended by 
any pain. If she felt any appetite she restrained it, 
she became so vain of having lost it. 

It was decided that Maria should go and visit her 
aunt Maria, in New England, and remain there all 
summer. Her father would pay her board in order 
that she should not be any restraint on her aunt, with 
her scant income. Just before Maria went, and just 
before her school closed, the broad gossip of the school 
came to her ears. She ascertained something which 
filled her at once with awe, and shame, and jealousy, 
and indignation. If one of the girls began to speak to 
her about it, she turned angrily away. She fairly pushed 
Gladys Mann one day. Gladys turned and looked at 
her with loving reproach, like a chidden dog. "What 
did you expect?" said she. Maria ran away, her face 

After she reached her aunt Maria's nothing was said 
to her about it. Aunt Maria was too prudish and too 
indignant. Uncle Henry's wife, Aunt Eunice, was away 
all summer, taking care of a sister who was ill with con- 
sumption in New Hampshire; so Aunt Maria kept the 
whole house, and she and Maria and Uncle Henry had 



their meals together. Maria loved her uncle Henry. 
He was a patient man, with a patience which at times 
turns to fierceness, of a man with a brain above his sphere, 
who has had to stand and toil in a shoe-factory for his 
bread and butter all his life. He was non-complainant 
because of a sort of stern pride, and a sense of a just 
cause against Providence, but he was very kind to Maria ; 
he petted her as if she had been his own child. Every 
pleasant night Uncle Henry took Maria for a trolley- 
ride, or a walk, and he treated her to ice-cream soda 
and candy. Aunt Maria also took good care of the 
child. She showed a sort of vicious curiosity with re- 
gard to Maria's step-mother and all the new household 
arrangements, which Maria did not gratify. She had too 
much loyalty, although she longed to say all that she 
thought to her aunt, being sure of a violent sympathizer. 

"Well, I'll say one thing, she has fixed your clothes 
nice/' said Aunt Maria. 

"She didn't do it, it was Miss Barnes, " replied Maria. 
She could not help saying that much. She did not want 
Aunt Maria to think her step-mother took better care 
of her wardrobe than her own mother had done. 

"Good land! She didn't hire all these things made ?" 
said Aunt Maria. 


"Good land! I don't see how your father is going to 
stand it. I'd like to know what your poor mother 
would have said?" said Aunt Maria. 

Then Maria's loyalty came to the front. After all, 
She was her father's wife, and to be defended. 

"I guess maybe father is making more money now," 
said she. 

"Well, I hope to the land he is," said Aunt Maria. 
"I guess if She (Aunt Maria also treated Ida like a 
pronoun) had just one hundred dollars and no more to 
get along with, she'd have to do different." 

9 6 


Maria regained her strength rapidly. When she went 
home, a few days before her school begun, in September, 
she was quite rosy and blooming. She had also fallen 
in love with a boy who lived next to Aunt Maria, and 
who asked her, over the garden fence, to correspond 
with him, the week before she left. 

It was that very night that Aunt Maria had the tele- 
gram. She paid the boy, then she opened it with trem- 
bling fingers. Her brother Henry and Maria were with 
her on the porch. It was a warm night, and Aunt 
Maria wore an ancient muslin. The south wind flut- 
tered the ruffles on that and the yellow telegram as she 
read. She was silent a moment, with mouth com- 

"Well," said her brother Henry, inquiringly. 
Aunt Maria's face flushed and paled. She turned to 

"Well," she said, "you've got a little sister." 

"Good!" said Uncle Henry. "Ever so much more 
company for you than a little brother would have been, 

Maria was silent. She trembled and felt cold, al- 
though the night was so warm. 

"Weighs seven pounds," said Aunt Maria, in a hard 

Maria returned home a week from that day. She 
travelled alone from Boston, and her father met her in 
New York. He looked strange to her. He was jubi- 
lant, and yet the marks of anxiety were deep. He 
seemed very glad to see Maria, and talked to her about 
her little sister in an odd, hesitating way. 

"Her name is Evelyn," said Harry. 

Maria said nothing. She and her father were cross- 
ing the city to the ferry in a cab. 

"Don't you think that is a pretty name, dear?" 
asked Harry, with a queer, apologetic wistfulness, 



"No, father, I think it is a very silly name," replied 

"Why, your mother and I thought it a very pretty 
name, dear." 

"I always thought it was the silliest name in the 
world," s^id Maria, firmly. However, she sat close to 
her father, and realized that it was something to have 
him to herself without Her, while crossing the city. 
"I don't know as I think Evelyn is such a very silly 
name, father," she said, presently, just before they 
reached the ferry. 

Harry bent down and kissed her. "Father's own 
little girl," he said. 

Maria felt that she had been magnanimous, for she 
had in reality never liked Evelyn, and would not have 
named a doll that. 

"You will be a great deal happier with a little sister. 
It will turn out for the best," said Harry, as the cab 
stopped. Harry always put a colon of optimism to all 
his happenings of life. 

The next morning, when Ida was arrayed in a silk 
negligee, and the baby was washed and dressed, Maria 
was bidden to enter the room which had been her moth- 
er's. The first thing which she noticed was a faint per- 
fume of violet-scented toilet -powder. Then she saw Ida 
leaning back gracefully in a reclining-chair, with her hair 
carefully dressed. The nurse held the baby: a. squirm- 
ing little bundle of soft, embroidered flannel. The nurse 
was French, and she awed Maria, for she spoke no Eng- 
lish, and nobody except Ida could understand her. She 
was elderly, small, and of a damaged blond type. Maria 
approached Ida and kissed her. Ida looked at her, smil- 
ing. Then she asked if she had had a pleasant summer. 
She told the nurse, in French, to show the baby to her. 
Maria approached the nurse timidly. The flannel was 
carefully laid aside, and the small, piteously inquiring and 



puzzled face, the inquiry and the bewilderment expressed 
by a thousand wrinkles, was exposed. Maria looked at 
it with a sort of shiver. The nurse laid the flannel apart 
and disclosed the tiny feet seeming already to kick 
feebly at existence. The nurse said something in 
French which Maria could not understand. Ida an- 
swered also in French. Then the baby seemed to 
experience a convulsion ; its whole face seemed to open 
into one gape of expostulation at fate. Then its feeble, 
futile wail filled the whole room. 

" Isn't she a little darling ?" asked Ida, of Maria. 

"Yes'm," replied Maria. 

There was a curious air of aloofness about Ida with 
regard to her baby, and something which gave the 
impression of wistfulness. It is possible that she was 
capable of wishing that she had not that aloofness. It 
did not in the least seem to Maria as if it were Ida's 
baby. She had a vague impression, derived she could 
not tell in what manner, of a rosebud laid on a gate- 
post. Ida did not seem conscious of her baby with the 
woodeny consciousness of an apple-tree of a blossom. 
When she gazed at it, it was with the same set smile 
with which she had always viewed all creation. That 
smile which came from without, not within, but now 
it was fairly tragic. 

" Her name is Evelyn. Don't you think it is a pretty 
name?" asked Ida. 

"Yes'm," replied Maria. She edged towards the 
door. The nurse, tossing the wailing baby, rose and 
got a bottle of milk. Maria went out. 

Maria went to school the next Monday, and all the 
girls asked her if the baby was pretty. 

"It looks like all the babies I ever saw," replied Maria 
guardedly. She did not wish to descry the baby which 
was, after all, her sister, but she privately thought it 
was a terrible sight. 



Gladys Mann supported her. "Babies do all look 
alike," said she. " We've had nine to our house, and I 
had ought to know." 

At first Maria used to dread to go home from school, 
on account of the baby. She had a feeling of repulsion 
because of >t, but gradually that feeling disappeared and 
an odd sort of fascination possessed her instead. She 
thought a great deal about the baby. When she heard 
it cry in the night, she thought that her father and Ida 
might have sense enough to stop it. She thought that 
she could stop its crying herself, by carrying it very 
gently around the room. Still she did not love the 
baby. It only appealed, in a general way, to her instincts. 
But one day, when the baby was some six weeks old, 
and Ida had gone to New York, she came home from 
school, and she went up to her own room, and she heard 
the baby crying in the room opposite. It cried and 
cried, with the insistent cry of a neglected child. Maria 
said to herself that she did not believe but the French 
nurse had taken advantage of Her absence, and had 
slipped out on some errand and left the baby alone. 

The baby continued to wail, and a note of despair 
crept into the wail. Maria could endure it no longer. 
She ran across the hall and flung open the door. The 
baby lay crying in a little pink-lined basket. Maria 
bent over it, and the baby at once stopped crying. She 
opened her mouth in a toothless smile, and she held up 
little, waving pink hands to Maria. Maria lifted the 
baby out of her basket and pressed her softly, with 
infinite care, as one does something very precious, to 
her childish bosom, and at once something strange 
seemed to happen to her. She became, as it were, 
illuminated by love. 


Maria had fallen in love with the baby, and her first 
impulse, as in the case of all true love, was secrecy. 
Why she should have been ashamed of her affection, her 
passion, for it was, in fact, passion, her first, she could 
not have told. It was the sublimated infatuation half 
compounded of dreams, half of instinct, which a little girl 
usually has for her doll. But Maria had never had any 
particular love for a doll. She had possessed dolls, of 
course, but she had never been quite able to rise above 
the obvious sham of them, the cloth and the sawdust 
and the paint. She had wondered how some little girls 
whom she had known had loved to sleep with their 
dolls; as for her, she would as soon have thought of 
taking pleasure in dozing off with any little roll of linen 
clasped in her arms. It was rather singular, for she 
had a vivid imagination, but it had balked at a doll. 
When, as sometimes happened, she saw a little girl of her 
own age, wheeling with solemnity a doll in a go-cart, she 
viewed her with amazement and contempt, and thought 
privately that she was not altogether bright. But this 
baby was different. It did not have to be laid on its 
back to make its eyes close, it did not have to be shaken 
and squeezed to make it vociferous. It was alive, and 
Maria, who was unusually alive in her emotional nature, 
was keenly aware of that effect. This little, tender, rosy 
thing was not stuffed with sawdust, it was stuffed with 
soul and love. It could smile; the smile was not paint- 
ed on its face in a doll-factory. Maria was so thankful 
that this baby, Ida's baby, did not have Her smile, un- 



changing and permanent for all observers and all vicis- 
situdes. When this baby smiled it smiled, and when 
it cried it cried. It was honest from the crown of its 
fuzzy head to the soles of its little pink worsted socks. 

At the first reception which Ida gave after the baby 
came, and 'when it was on exhibition in a hand-em- 
broidered robe, it screamed every minute. Maria was 
secretly glad, and proud of it. It meant much to her 
that Iter baby should not smile at all the company, 
whether it was smiling in its heart or not, the way She 
did. Maria had no room in her heart for any other love, 
except that for her father and the baby. She looked 
at Wollaston Lee, and wondered how she could ever 
have had dreams about him, how she could ever have 
preferred a boy to a baby like her little sister, even in 
her dreams. She ceased haunting the post-office for a 
letter from that other boy in New England, who had 
asked her to correspond over the garden fence, and who 
had either never written at all, or had misdirected his 
letter. She wondered how she had thought for a mo- 
ment of doing such a thing as writing to a boy like that. 
She remembered with disgust how overgrown that boy 
was, and how his stockings were darned at the knees; 
and how she had seen patches of new cloth on his trou- 
sers, and had heard her aunt Maria say that he was so 
hard on his clothes on account of his passion for bird- 
nesting, that it was all his mother could do to keep him 
anyways decent. How could she have thought for a 
moment of a bird-nesting sort of boy? She was so 
thankful that the baby was a girl. Maria, as sometimes 
happens, had a rather inverted system of growth. With 
most, dolls come first, then boys; with her, dolls had 
not come at all. Boys came first, then her little baby 
sister, which was to her in the place of a doll, and the 
boys got promptly relegated to the background. 

Much to Maria's delight, the French nurse, whom she 


at once disliked and stood in awe of, only remained until 
the baby was about two months old, then a little nurse- 
girl was engaged. On pleasant days the nurse-girl, whose 
name was Josephine, wheeled out the baby in her little 
carriage, which was the daintiest thing of the kind to 
be found, furnished with a white lace canopy lined with 
rose-colored silk. It was on these occasions that Maria 
showed duplicity. On Saturdays, when there was no 
school, she privately and secretly bribed Josephine, who 
was herself under the spell of the baby, to go home and 
visit her mother, and let her have the privilege of wheel- 
ing it herself. Maria had a small sum every week for her 
pocket-money, and a large part of it went to Josephine 
in the shape of chocolates, of which she was inordinately 
fond; in fact, Josephine, who came of the poor whites, 
like Gladys Mann, might have been said to be a choco- 
late maniac. Maria used to arrange with Josephine to 
meet her on a certain corner on Saturdays, and there 
the transfer was made: Josephine became the possessor 
of half a pound of chocolates, and Maria of the baby. 
Josephine had sworn almost a solemn oath to never tell. 
She at once repaired to her mother's, sucking chocolates 
on the way, and Maria blissfully wheeled the baby. 
She stood in very little danger of meeting Her on these 
occasions, because the Edgham Woman's Club met on 
Saturday afternoon. It often happened, however, that 
Maria met some of the school -girls, and then nothing 
could have exceeded her pride and triumph. Some of 
them had little brothers or sisters, but none of them 
such a little sister as hers. 

The baby had, in reality, grown to be a beauty among 
babies. All the inflamed red and aged puckers and creases 
had disappeared; instead of that was the sweetest flush, 
like that of just-opened rosebuds. Evelyn was a com- 
pact little baby, fat, but not overlapping and grossly fat. 
It was such a matter of pride to Maria that the baby's 
8 103 


cheeks did not hang the least bit in the world, but had 
only lovely little curves and dimples. She had become 
quite a connoisseur in babies. When she saw a baby 
whose flabby cheeks hung down and touched its bib, 
she was d^gusted. She felt as if there was something 
morally wrong with such a baby as that. Her baby 
was wrapped in the softest white things: furs, and silk- 
lined embroidered cashmeres, and her little face just 
peeped out from the lace frill of a charming cap. There 
was only one touch of color in all this whiteness, beside 
the tender rose of the baby's face, and that was a little 
knot of pale pink baby-ribbon on the cap. Maria often 
stopped to make sure that the cap was on straight, and she 
also stopped very often to tuck in the white fur rug, 
and she also stopped often to thrust her own lovely little 
girl-face into the sweet confusion of baby and lace and 
embroidery and fur, with soft kisses and little, caressing 
murmurs of love. She made up little love phrases, 
which she would have been inexpressibly ashamed to 
have had overheard. ' ' Little honey love" was one of 
them — "Sister's own little honey love." Once, when 
walking on Elm Street under the leafless arches of the 
elms, where she thought she was quite alone, although 
it was a very bright, warm afternoon, and quite dry — 
it was not a snowy winter — she spoke more loudly than 
she intended, and looked up to see another, bigger girl, 
the daughter of the Edgham lawyer, whose name was 
Annie Stone. Annie Stone was large of her age — so 
large, in fact, that she had a nickname of "Fatty" in 
school. It had possibly soured her, or her over-plump- 
ness may have been due to some physical ailment which 
rendered her irritable. At all events, Annie Stone had 
not that sweetness and placidity of temperament popu- 
larly supposed to be coincident with stoutness. She 
had a bitter and sarcastic tongue for a young girl. 
Maria inwardly shuddered when she saw Annie Stone's 



fat, malicious face surveying her from under her fur- 
trimmed hat. Annie Stone was always very well dressed, 
but even that did not seem to improve her mental atti- 
tude. Her large, high-colored face was also distinctly 
pretty, but she did not seem to be cognizant of that to 
the result of any satisfaction. 

" Sister's little honey love!" she repeated after Maria, 
with fairly a snarl of satire. 

Maria had spirit, although she was for the moment 

"Well, she is — so there, " said she. 

"You wait till you have a few more little honey 
loves," said Annie Stone, "and see how you feel. ,, 

With that Annie Stone went her way, with soft 
flounces of her short, stout body, and Maria was left. 
She was still defiant; her blood was up. "Sister's 
little honey love," she said to the baby, in a tone so 
loud that Annie Stone must have heard. "Were folks 
that didn't have anything but naughty little brothers 
jealous of her?" Annie Stone had, in fact, a notorious 
little brother, who at the early age of seven was the 
terror of his sisters and all law-abiding citizens; but 
Annie Stone was not easily touched. 

"Sister's little honey love," she shouted back, turning 
a malignant face over her shoulder. She had that very 
morning had a hand-to-hand fight with her naughty little 
brother, and finally come out victorious, by forcing him 
to the ground and sitting on him until he said he was 
sorry. It was not very reasonable that she should be 
at all sensitive with regard to him. 

After Annie Stone had gone out of sight, Maria went 
around to the front of the little carriage, adjusted the 
white fur rug carefully, secured a tiny, white mitten on 
one of the baby's hands, and whispered to the baby 
alone. "You are sister's little honey love, aren't you, 
precious?" and the baby smiled that entrancing smile 



of honesty and innocence which sent the dimples spread- 
ing to the lace frill of her cap, and reached out her 
arms, thereby displacing both mittens, which Maria ad- 
justed; then, after a fervent kiss, she went her way. 

However, she was not that afternoon to proceed on 
her way fang uninterrupted. For some time Josephine, 
the nurse-girl, had either been growing jealous, or choco- 
lates were palling upon her. Josephine had also found 
her own home locked up, and the key nowhere in evi- 
dence. There would be a good half -hour to wait at 
the usual corner for Maria. The wind had changed, 
and blew cold from the northwest. Josephine was not 
very warmly clad. She wore her white gown and apron, 
which Mrs. Edgham insisted upon, and which she re- 
sented. She had that day felt a stronger sense of injury 
with regard to it, and counted upon telling her mother 
how mean and set up she thought it was for any lady as 
called herself a lady to make a girl wear a summer white 
dress in winter. She shivered on her corner of waiting. 
Josephine got more and more wroth. Finally she de- 
cided to start in search of Maria and the baby. She 
gave her white skirts an angry switch and started. It 
was not very long after she had turned her second corner 
before she saw Maria and the baby ahead of her. Jose- 
phine then ran. She was a stout girl, and she plunged 
ahead heavily until she came up with Maria. The first 
thing Maria knew, Josephine had grabbed the handle of 
the carriage — two red girl hands appeared beside her 
own small, gloved ones. 

"Here, gimme this baby to once/' gabbled Josephine 
in the thick speech of her kind. 

Maria looked at her. "The time isn't up, and you 
know it isn't, Josephine," said she. "I just passed by 
a clock in Melvin & Adams's jewelry store, and it isn't 
time for me to be on the corner." 

"Gimme the baby," demanded Josephine. She at- 


tempted to pull the carriage away from Maria, but 
Maria, although her strength was inferior, had spirit 
enough to cope with any poor white. Her little fingers 
clutched like iron. "I shall not give her up until four 
o'clock," said she. "Go back to the corner." 

Josephine's only answer was a tug which dislodged 
Maria's fingers and hurt her. But Maria came of the 
stock which believed in trusting the Lord and keeping 
the powder dry. She was not yet conquered. The 
right was clearly on her side. She and Josephine had 
planned to meet at the corner at four o'clock, and it 
was not quite half -past three, and she had given Jose- 
phine half a pound of chocolates. She did not stop to 
reflect a moment. Maria's impulses were quick, and 
lack of decision in emergencies was not a failing of hers. 
She made one dart to the rear of Josephine. Josephine 
wore her hair in a braided loop, tied with a bow of black 
ribbon. Maria seized upon this loop of brown braids, 
and hung. She was enough shorter than Josephine to 
render it effectual. Josephine's head was bent back- 
ward and she was helpless, unless she let go of the baby- 
carriage. Josephine, however, had good lungs, and she 
screamed, as she was pulled backward, still holding to 
the little carriage,, which was also somewhat tilted by 
the whole performance. 

"Lemme be, you horrid little thing!" she screamed, 
"or I'll tell your ma." 

"She isn't my mother," said Maria in return. "Let 
go of my baby." 

11 She is your ma. Your father married her, and she's 
your ma, and you can't help yourself. Lemme go, or 
I'D tell on you.'" 

"Tell, if you want to," said Maria, firmly, actually 
swinging with her whole weight from Josephine's loop 
of braids. "Let go my baby." 

Josephine screamed again, with her head bent back- 



ward, and the baby-carriage tilted perilously. Then a 
woman, who had been watching from a window near by, 
rushed upon the scene. She was Gladys Mann's mother. 
Just as she appeared the baby began to cry, and that 
accelerated her speed. The windows of her house be- 
came filled with staring childish faces. The woman, who 
was very small and lean but wiry, a bundle of muscles 
and nerve, ran up to the baby - carriage, and pulled it 
back to its proper status, and began at once quieting 
the frightened baby and scolding the girls. 

"Hush, hush," cooed she to the baby. "Did it think 
it was goin' to get hurted?" Then to the girls: "Ain't 
you ashamed of yourselves, two great girls fightin' right 
in the street, and most tippin' the baby over. S'posin' 
you had killed him?" 

Then Josephine burst forth in a great wail of wrath 
and pain. The bringing down of the carriage had in- 
creased her agony, for Maria still clung to her hair. 

"Oh, oh, oh!" howled Josephine, her head straining 
back. "She's most killin' me." 

"An* I'll warrant you deserve it," said the woman. 
Then she added to Maria — she was entirely impartial in 
her scolding — "Let go of her, ain't you shamed." Then 
to the baby, "Did he think he was goin' to get hurted ?" 

"He's a girl!" cried Maria in a frenzy of indignation. 
"He is not a boy, he is a girl." She still clung desper- 
ately to Josephine's hair, who in her turn clung to the 

Then Gladys came out of the house, in a miserable, 
thin, dirty gown, and she was Maria's ally. 

"Let that baby go!" she cried to Josephine. She 
tugged fiercely at Josephine's white skirt. 

"Gladys Mann, you go right straight into the house. 
What be you buttin' in for!" screamed her mother. 
"You let that girl's hair alone. Josephine, what you 
been up to. You might have killed this baby." 



The baby screamed louder. It wriggled around in its 
little, white fur nest, and stretched out imploring pink 
paws from which the mittens had fallen off. Its little 
lace hood was awry, the pink rosette was cocked over 
one ear. Maria herself began to cry. Then Gladys 
waxed fairly fierce. She paid no attention whatever to 
her mother. 

" You jest go round an' ketch on to the kid's wagin," 
said she, ' ' an' I'll take care of her. ' ' With that her strong 
little hands made a vicious clutch at Josephine's braids. 

Maria sprang for the baby-carriage. She straightened 
the lace hood, she tucked in the fur robe, and put on 
the mittens. The baby's screams subsided into a 
grieved whimper. ' ' Did great wicked girls come and 
plague sister's own little precious?" said Maria. But 
now she had to reckon with Gladys's mother, who had 
recovered her equilibrium, lost for a second by her 
daughter's manoeuvre. She seized in her turn the han- 
dle of the baby-carriage, and gave Maria a strong push 
aside. Then she looked at all three combatants, like a 
poor-white Solomon. 

"Who were sent out with him in the first place, that's 
what I want to know?" she said. 

"I were," replied Josephine in a sobbing shout. Her 
head was aching as if she had been scalped. 

"Shet up!" said Gladys's mother inconsistently. 

"Did your ma send her out with him?" she queried 
of her. 

"He is not a boy," replied Maria shiftily. 

"Yes, she did," said Josephine, still rubbing her head. 

Gladys, through a wholesome fear of her mother, had 
released her hold on her braids, and stood a little be- 

Mrs. Mann's scanty rough hair blew in the winter 
wind as she took hold of the carriage. Maria again 
tucked in the white fur robe to conceal her discomfiture. 



She was becoming aware that she was being proved in 
the wrong. 

"Shet up!" said Mrs. Mann in response to Josephine's 
answer. There was not the slightest sense nor meaning 
in the remark, but it was, so to speak, her household 
note, learned through the exigency of being in the con- 
stant society of so many noisy children. She told every- 
body, on general principles, to "shet up," even when 
she wished for information which necessitated the reverse. 

Mrs. Mann was thin and meagre, and wholly untidy. 
The wind lashed her dirty cotton skirt around her, dis- 
closing a dirtier petticoat and men's shoes. The skin of 
her worn, blond face had a look as if the soil of life had 
fairly been rubbed into it. All the lines of this face 
were lax, displaying utter lassitude and no energy. She, 
however, had her evanescent streaks of life, as now. 
Once in a while a bubble of ancestral blood seemed to 
come to the surface, although it soon burst. She had 
come, generations back, of a good family. She was the 
run out weed of it, but still, at times, the old colors of 
the blossom were evident. She turned to Maria. 

" If," said she, "your ma sent her out with this young 
one, I don't see why you went to pullin' her hair fur?" 

"I gave her a whole half-pound of chocolates," re- 
turned Maria, in a fine glow of indignation, "if she 
would let me push the baby till four o'clock, and it 
isn't four o'clock yet." 

"It ain't more than half -past three," said Gladys. 

"Shet up !" said her mother. She stood looking rather 
helplessly at the three little girls and the situation. Her 
suddenly wakened mental faculties were running down 
like those of a watch which has been shaken to make it 
go for a few seconds. The situation was too much for 
her, and, according to her wont, she let it drop. Just 
then a whiff of strong sweetness came from the house, 
and her blank face lighted up. 



"We are makin' 'lasses candy," said she. "You 
young ones all come in and hev' some, and I'll take the 
baby. He can get warm, and a little of thet candy 
won't do him no harm, nuther." Mrs. Mann used the 
masculine pronoun from force of habit ; all her children 
with the exception of Gladys were boys. 

Maria hesitated. She had a certain scorn for the 
Manns. She eyed Mrs. Mann's dirty attire and face. 
But she was in fact cold, and the smell of the candy was 
entrancing. "She said never to take the baby in any- 
where," said she, doubtfully. 

Josephine having tired of chocolate, realized suddenly 
an enormous hunger for molasses candy. She sniffed 
like a hunting hound. "She didn't say not to go into 
Mrs. Mann's," said she. 

" She said anywhere; I heard her tell you," said Maria. 

"Mrs. Mann's ain't anywhere," said Josephine, who 
had a will of her own. She rushed around and caught 
up the baby. "She's most froze," said she. "She'll 
get the croup if she don't get warmed up." 

With that, Josephine carrying the baby, Maria, Gladys, 
and Mrs. Mann all entered the little, squalid Mann house, 
as hot as a conservatory and reeking with the smell of 
boiled molasses. 

When Josephine and Maria and the baby started out 
again, Maria turned to Josephine. 

"Now," said she, "if you don't let me push her as 
far as the corner of our street, I'll tell how you took her 
into Mrs. Mann's. You know what She'll say." 

Josephine, whose face was smeared with molasses 
candy, and who was even then sucking some, relin- 
quished her hold on the carriage. "You'll be awful 
mean if you do tell," said she. 

"I will tell if you don't do what you say you'll do 
another time," said she. 

When they reached home, Ida had not returned, but 


she came in radiant some few minutes later. She had 
read a paper on a famous man, for the pleasure and 
profit of the Edgham Woman's Club, and she had re- 
ceived much applause and felt correspondingly elated. 
Josephine had taken the baby up-stairs to a little room 
which had recently been fitted up for a nursery, and, not 
following her usual custom, Ida went in there after 
removing her outer wraps. She stood in her blue cloth 
dress looking at the child with her usual air of radiant 
aloofness, seeming to shed her own glory, like a star, 
upon the baby, rather than receive its little light into 
the loving recesses of her own soul. Josephine and 
also Maria were in a state of consternation. They had 
discovered a large, sticky splash of molasses candy on 
the baby's white embroidered cloak. They had washed 
the baby's sticky little face, but they did not know what 
was to be done about the cloak, which lay over a chair. 
Josephine essayed, with a dexterous gesture, to so fold 
the cloak over that the stain would be for the time con- 
cealed. But Ida Edgham had not been a school-teacher 
for nothing. She saw the gesture, and immediately took 
up the cloak herself. 

" Why, what is this on her cloak?" said she. 

There was a miserable silence. 

"It looks like molasses candy. It is molasses candy," 
said Ida. "Josephine, did you give this child molasses 
candy?" Ida's voice was entirely even, but there was 
something terrible about it. 

Maria saw Josephine turn white. " She wouldn't have 
given her the candy if it hadn't been for me," said she. 

Ida stood looking from one to the other. Josephine's 
face was white and scared, Maria's impenetrable. 

"If you ever give this child candy again, either of 
you," said Ida, "you will never take her out again." 
Then she went out, still smiling. 

Josephine looked at Maria with enormous gratitude. 


"Say," said she, "you're a dandy." 
"You're a cheat!" returned Maria, with scorn. 
"I'm awful sorry I didn't wait on the corner till four 
o'clock, honest." 
"You'd better be." 

"Say, but you be a dandy," repeated Josephine. 


Maria began to be conscious of other and more vital 
seasons than those of the old earth on which she lived — 
the seasons of the human soul. Along with her own 
unconscious and involuntary budding towards bloom, 
the warm rush of the blood in her own veins, she realized 
the budding progress of the baby. When little Evelyn 
was put into short frocks, and her little, dancing feet 
were shod with leather instead of wool, Maria felt a sort 
of delicious wonder, similar to that with which she watch- 
ed a lilac-bush in the yard when its blossoms deepened 
in the spring. 

The day when Evelyn was put into short frocks, 
Maria glanced across the school-room at Wollaston Lee, 
and her innocent passion, half romance, half imagina- 
tion, which had been for a time in abeyance, again 
thrilled her. All her pulses throbbed. She tried to work 
out a simple problem in her algebra, but mightier un- 
known quantities were working towards solution in 
every beat of her heart. Wollaston shot a sidelong 
glance at her, and she felt it, although she did not see 
it. Gladys Mann leaned over her shoulder. 

"Say," she whispered, "Wollaston Lee is jest starin' 
at you!" 

Maria gave a little, impatient shrug of her shoulders, 
although a blush shot over her whole face, and Gladys 
saw distinctly the back of her neck turn a roseate 

"He's awful stuck on you, I guess," Gladys said. 
Maria shrugged her shoulders again, but she thought 


of Wollaston and then of the baby in her short frock 
and she felt that her heart was bursting with joy, as a 
bud with blossom. 

Ida, meantime, was curiously impassive towards her 
child's attainments. There was something pathetic about 
this impassiveness. Ida was missing a great deal, and 
more because she did not even know what she missed. 
However, she began to be conscious of a settled aversion 
towards Maria. Her manner towards her was unchanged, 
but she became distinctly irritated at seeing her about. 
When anything annoyed Ida, she immediately enter- 
tained no doubt whatever that it was not in accordance 
with the designs of an overruling Providence. It seemed 
manifest to her that if anything annoyed her, it should 
be removed. However, in this case, the way of removal 
did not seem clear for a long time. Harry was un- 
doubtedly fond of Maria. That did not trouble Ida in 
the least, although she recognized the fact. She was 
not a woman who was capable of jealousy, because her 
own love and admiration for herself made her impreg- 
nable. She loved herself so much more than Harry 
could possibly love her that his feeling for Maria did 
not ruffle her in the least. It was due to no jealousy 
that she wished Maria removed, at least for a part of 
the time. It was only that she was always conscious 
of a dissent, silent and helpless, still persistent, tow- 
ards her attitude as regarded herself. She knew that 
Maria did not think her as beautiful and perfect as she 
thought herself, and the constant presence of this small 
element of negation irritated her. Then, too, while she 
was not in the least jealous of her child, she had a curi- 
ous conviction that Maria cared more for her than she 
herself cared, and that in itself was a covert reproach. 
When little Evelyn ran to meet her sister when she re- 
turned from school, Ida felt distinctly disturbed. She 
had no doubt of her ultimate success in her purpose of 



ridding herself of at least the constant presence of Maria, 
and in the mean time she continued to perform her duty 
by the girl, to that outward extent that everybody in 
Edgham pronounced her a model step-mother. " Maria 
Edgham never looKed half so well in her own mother's 
time," they said. 

Lillian White spoke of it to her mother one Sunday. 
She had been to church, but her mother had remained 
at home on account of a cold. 

"I tell you she looked dandy," said Lillian. Lillian 
was still as softly and negatively pretty as ever. She 
was really charming because she was not angular, be- 
cause her skin was not thick and coarse, because she did 
not look anaemic, but perfectly well fed and nourished 
and happy. 

" Who ?" asked her mother. 

' ' Maria Edgham. She was togged out to beat the 
band. Everything looked sort of fadged up that she 
had before her own mother died. I tell you she never 
had anything like the rig she wore to-day." 

"What was it?" asked her mother interestedly, wip- 
ing her rasped nose with a moist ball of handkerchief. 

" Oh, it was the handsomest brown suit I ever laid my 
eyes on, with hand-embroidery, and fur, and a big pict- 
ure hat trimmed with fur and chrysanthemums. She's 
an awful pretty little girl anyhow." 

"She always was pretty," said Mrs. White, dabbing 
her nose again. 

"If Ida don't look out, her step-daughter will beat 
her in looks," said Lillian. 

"I never thought myself that Ida was anything to 
brag of, anyway," said Mrs. .White. She still had a 
sense of wondering injury that Harry Edgham had pre- 
ferred Ida to her Lillian. 

Lillian was now engaged to be married, but her 
mother did not feel quite satisfied with the man. He 



was employed in a retail clothing establishment in New 
York, and had only a small salary. " Foster Simpkins" 
(that was the young man's name) "ain't really what 
you ought to have," she often said to Lillian. 

But Lillian took it easily. She liked the young man 
very much as she would have liked a sugar-plum, and 
she thought it high time for her to be married, although 
she was scarcely turned twenty. "Oh, well, ma," she 
said. "Men don't grow on every bush, and Foster is 
real good-lookin', and maybe his salary will be raised." 

"You ain't lookin' very high," said her mother. 

"No use in strainin' your neck for things out of your 
own sky," said Lillian, who had at times a shrewd sort 
of humor, inherited from her father. 

"Harry Edgham would have been a better match 
for you," her mother said. 

"Lord, I'd a good sight rather have Foster than 
another woman's leavin's," replied Lillian. " Then there 
was Maria, too. It would have been an awful job to 
dress her, and look out for her." 

"That's so," said her mother, "and then the two sets 
of children, too." 

Lillian colored and giggled. "Oh, land, don't talk 
about children, ma!" said she. "I'm contented as it is. 
But you ought to have seen that young one to-day." 

"What did Ida wear?" asked Mrs. White. 

"She wore her black velvet suit, that she had this 
winter, and the way she strutted up the aisle was a 

"I don't see how Harry Edgham lives the way he 
does," said Mrs. White. "Black velvet costs a lot. Do 
you s'pose it is silk velvet?" 

"You bet." 

"I don't see how he does it!" 

"He looks sort of worn-out to me. He's grown awful 
old, I noticed it to-day." 



"Well, all Ida cares for is herself. She don't see he's 
grown old, you can be sure of that," said Mrs. White, 
with an odd sort of bitterness. Actually the woman 
was so filled with maternal instincts that the bare dream 
of Harry as her Lillian's husband had given her a sort 
of motherly solicitude for him, which she had not lost. 
"It's a shame," said she. 

"Oh, well, it's none of my funeral," said Lillian, 
easily. She took a chocolate out of a box which her 
lover had sent her, and began nibbling it like a squirrel. 

"Poor man," said Mrs. White. Tears of emotion 
actually filled her eyes and mingled with the rheum of 
her cold. She took out her moist ball of handkerchief 
again and dabbed both her eyes and nose. 

Lillian looked at her half amusedly, half affectionately. 
"Mother, you do beat the Dutch," said she. 

Mrs. White actually snivelled." "I can't help remem- 
bering the time when his poor first wife died," said she, 
"and how he and little Maria came here to take their 
meals, poor souls. Harry Edgham was just the one to 
be worked by a woman, poor fellow." 

Lillian sucked her chocolate with a full sense of its 
sweetness. "Ma, you can't keep track of all creation, 
nor cry over it," said she. "You've got to leave it to 
the Lord. Have you taken your pink pellet?" 

"Poor little Maria, too," said Mrs. White. 

"Good gracious, ma, don't you take to worryin' over 
her," said Lillian. "Here's your pink pellet. A young 
one dressed up the way she was to-day!" 

"Dress ain't everything, and nothin' is goin' to make 
me believe that Ida Slome is a good mother to her, nor 
to her own child neither. It ain't in her." 

Lillian, approaching her mother at the window with 
the pink pellet and a glass of water, uttered an exclama- 
tion. "For the land's sake, there she is now!" she said. 
"Look, ma, there is Maria in her new suit, and she's got 



the baby in a little carriage on runners. Just look at 
the white fur-tails hanging over the back. Ain't that a 
handsome suit ?" 

Mrs. White gazed out eagerly. 4 'It must have cost a 
pile," said she. "I don't see how he does it." 

' 'She sees you at the window," said Lillian. 

Both she and her mother smiled and waved at Maria. 
Maria bowed, and smiled with a sweet irradiation of her 
rosy face. 

"She's a little beauty, anyhow," said Lillian. 
"Dear child," said Mrs. White, and she snivelled 

"Ma, either your cold or the stuff you are takin' is 
making you dreadful nervous," said Lillian. "You cry 
at nothin' at all. How straight she is! No stoop about 

Maria was, in fact, carrying herself with an extreme 
straightness both of body and soul. She was conscious 
to the full of her own beauty in her new suit, and of the 
loveliness of her little sister in her white fur nest of a 
sledge. She was inordinately proud. She had asked 
Ida if she might take the child for a little airing before 
the early Sunday dinner, and Ida had consented easily. 

Ida also wished for an opportunity to talk with Harry 
about her cherished scheme, and preferred doing so when 
Maria was not in the house. For manifest reasons, too, 
Sunday was the best day on which to approach her hus- 
band on a subject which she realized was a somewhat 
delicate one. She was not so sure of his subservience 
when Maria was concerned, as in everything else, and 
Sunday was the day when his nerves were less strained, 
when he had risen late. Ida did not insist upon his 
going to church, as his first wife had done. In fact, if 
the truth was told, Harry wore his last winter's overcoat 
this year, and she was a little doubtful about its appear- 
ance in conjunction with her new velvet costume. He 
9 119 


sat in the parlor when Ida entered after Maria had gone 
out with Evelyn. Harry looked at her admiringly. 

"How stunning you do look in that velvet dress!" 
he said. 

Ida laughed consciously. "I rather like it myself," 
said she. 44 It's a great deal handsomer than Mrs. George 
Henderson's, and I know she had hers made at a Fifth 
Avenue tailor's, and it must have cost twice as much." 

Ida had filled Harry with the utmost faith in her 
financial management. While he was spending more 
than he had ever done, and working harder, he was 
innocently unconscious of it. He felt a sense of grati- 
tude and wonder that Ida was such a good manager and 
accomplished such great results with such a small ex- 
penditure. He was unwittingly disloyal to his first wife. 
He remembered the rigid economy under her sway, and 
owned to himself, although with remorseful tenderness, 
that she had not been such a financier as this woman. 
"You ought to go on Wall Street," he often told Ida. 
He gazed after her now with a species of awe that he 
had such a splendid, masterful creature for his wife, as 
she moved with the slow majesty habitual to her out of 
the room, the black plumes on her hat softly floating, the 
rich draperies of her gown trailing in sumptuous folds of 

When she came down again, in a rose-colored silk tea- 
gown trimmed with creamy lace, she was still more en- 
trancing. She brought with her into the room an atmos- 
phere of delicate perfume. Harry had stopped smoking 
entirely nowadays. Ida had persuaded him that it was 
bad for him. She had said nothing about the expense, 
as his first wife had been accustomed to do. Therefore 
there was no tobacco smoke to dull his sensibilities to this 
delicate perfume. It was as if a living rose had entered 
the room. Ida sank gracefully into a chair opposite him. 
She was wondering how she could easily lead up to the 



subject in her mind. There was much diplomacy, on a 
very small and selfish scale, about Ida. She realized 
the expediency of starting from apparently a long dis- 
tance, to establish her sequences in order to maintain 
the appearance of unpremeditativeness. 

" Isn't it a little too warm here, dear?" said she, pres- 
ently, in the voice which alone she could not control. 
Whenever she had an entirely self-centred object in 
mind, an object which might possibly meet with oppo- 
sition, as now, her voice rang harsh and lost its singing 

Harry did not seem to notice it. He started up im- 
mediately. The portieres between the room and the 
vestibule were drawn. He had, in fact, felt somewhat 
chilly. It was a cold day, and he had a touch of the 
grip. "I will open the portieres, dear," he said. "I 
dare say you are right." 

"I noticed it when I first came in," said Ida. "I 
meant to draw the portieres apart myself, but going out 
through the library I forgot it. Thank you, dear. How 
is your cold?" 

"It is nothing, dear," replied Harry. "There is only 
a little soreness in my throat." 

He resumed his seat, and noticed the fragrance of 
roasted chicken coming through the parted portieres 
from the kitchen. Harry was very fond of roasted 
chicken. He inhaled that and the delicate perfume of 
Ida's garments and hair. He regarded her glowing 
beauty with affection which had no taint of sensuality. 
Harry had more of a poetic liking for sweet odors and 
beauty than a sensual one. 

Harry Edgham in these days had a more poetic and 
spiritual look than formerly. He had not lost his strange 
youthfulness of expression ; it was as if a child had the 
appearance of having been longer on the earth. His 
hair had thinned, and receded from his temples, and the 



bold, almost babyish fulness of his temples was more 
evident. His face was thinner, too, and he had not 
much color. His mouth was drawn down at the corner, 
andjie frowned slightly, as a child might, in helpless but 
non-aggressive dissent. His worn appearance was very 
noticeable, in spite of his present happy mood, of which 
his wife shrewdly took advantage. 

Ida Edgham did not care for books, although she 
never admitted that fact, but she could read with her 
cold feminine astuteness the moods and souls of men, 
with unerring quickness. Those last were to her ad- 
vantage or disadvantage, and in anything of that nature 
she was gifted by nature. Ida Edgham might have 
been, as her husband might have been, a poet, an ad- 
venturess, who could have made the success of her age 
had she not been hindered, as well as aided, by her self- 
love. She had the shrewdness w T hich prognosticates as 
well as discerns, and saw the inevitableness of the 
ultimatum of all irregularities in a world which, however 
irregular it is in practice, still holds regularity as its 
model of conduct and progression. Ida Edgham would, 
in the desperate state of the earth before the flood, have 
made herself famous. As it was, her irregular talents 
had a limited field; however, she did all she could. It 
always seemed to her that, as far as the right and wrong 
of things went, her own happiness was eminently right, 
and that it was distinctly wrong for her, or any one else, 
to oppose any obstacle to it. She allowed the pleasant 
influences of the passing moment to have their full effect 
upon her husband, and she continued her leading up to 
the subject by those easy and apparently unrelated se- 
quences which none but a diplomat could have managed. 

"Thank you, dear," she said, when Harry resumed 
his seat. "The air is cold but very clear and pleasant 
out to-day," she continued. 

"It looks so," said Harry. 



' ' Still, if I were you, I think I would not go out; it 
might make your cold worse,' ' said Ida. 

"No, I think it would be full as well for me to stay 
in to-day,' ' replied Harry happily. He hemmed a little 
as he spoke, realizing the tickle in his throat with rather 
a pleasant sense of importance than annoyance. He 
stretched himself luxuriously in his chair, and gazed 
about the warm, perfumed, luxurious apartment. 

"You have to go out to-morrow, anyway," said Ida, 
and she increased his sense of present comfort by that 

"That is so," said Harry, with a slight sigh. 

Lately it had seemed harder than ever before for him 
to start early in the black winter mornings and hurry 
for his train. Then, too, he had what he had never had 
before, a sense of boredom, of ennui, so intense that it 
was almost a pain. The deadly monotony of it wearied 
him. For the first time in his life his harness of duty 
chafed his spirit. He was so tired of seeing the same 
train, the same commuters, taking the same path across 
the station to the ferry-boat, being jostled by the same 
throng, going to the same office, performing the same, 
or practically the same, duties, that his very soul was 
irritated. He had reached a point where he not only 
needed but demanded a change, but the change was 
as impossible, without destruction, as for a planet to 
leave its orbit. 

Ida saw the deepening of the frown on his fore- 
head and the lengthening of the lines around his 

"Poor old man!" said she. "I wish I had a fortune 
to give you, so you wouldn't have to go." 

The words we,re fairly cooing, but the tone was still 
harsh. However, Harry brightened. He regarded this 
lovely, blooming creature and inhaled again the odor 
of dinner, and reflected with a sense of gratitude upon 



his mercies. Harry had a grateful heart, and was al- 
ways ready to blame himself. 

"Oh, I should be lost, go all to pieces, if I quit work," 
he said, laughing. "If I were left a fortune, I should 
land in an insane asylum very likely, or take to drink. 
No, dear, you can't teach such an old bird new tricks; 
he's been in one tree too long, summer and winter." 

"Well, after all, you have not got to go out to-day," 
remarked Ida, skilfully, and Harry again stretched him- 
self with a sense of present comfort. 

"That is so, dear," he said. 

"I have something you like for supper, too," said 
Ida, "and I think George Adams and Louisa may drop 
in and we can have some music." 

Harry brightened still more. He liked George Adams, 
and the wife had more than a talent for music, of which 
Harry was passionately fond. She played wonderfully 
on Ida's well-tuned grand piano. 

"I thought you might like it," said Ida, "and I spoke 
to Louisa as I was coming out of church." 

"You were very kind, sweetheart," Harry said, and 
again a flood of gratitude seemed to sweeten life for the 

Ida took another step in her sequence. 

"I think Maria had better stay up, if they do come," 
said she. "She enjoys music so much. She can keep 
on her new gown. Maria is so careful of her gowns that 
I never feel any anxiety about her soiling them." 

"She is just like — " began Harry, then he stopped. 
He had been about to state that Maria was just like her 
mother in that respect, but had remembered suddenly 
that he was speaking to his second wife. 

However, Ida finished his remark for him with per- 
fect good-nature. She had not the slightest jealousy 
of Harry's first wife, only a sort of contempt, that she 
had gotten so little where she herself had gotten so much. 



" Maria's own mother was very particular, wasn't she, 
dear?" she said. 

"Very," replied Harry. 

"Maria takes it from her, without any doubt," Ida 
said, smoothly. " She looked so sweet in that new gown 
to-day, that I would like to have the Adamses see her 
without her coat to-night ; and Maria looks even prettier 
without her hat, too, her hair grows so prettily on her 
temples. Maria grows lovlier every day, it seems to me. 
I don't know how many I saw looking at her in church 
this morning." 

"Yes, she is going to be pretty, I guess," said Harry, 
and again his very soul seemed warm and light with 
pleasure and gratitude. 

"She is pretty," said Ida, conclusively. "She is at 
the awkward age, too. But there is no awkwardness 
about Maria. She is like a little fairy." 

Harry beamed upon her. "She is as proud as punch 
when she gets a chance to take the little one out, and 
they made a pretty picture going down the street," said 
he, "but I hope she won't catch cold. Is that new suit 

"Oh yes! it is interlined. I looked out for that." 

"You look out for my child as if she were your own, 
bless you, dear," Harry said, affectionately. 

Then Ida thought that the time for her carefully-led- 
up-to coup had arrived. "I try to," said she, meekly. 

"You do." 

Ida began to speak, then she hesitated, with timid 
eyes on her husband's face. 
"What is it, dear?" asked he. 

"Well, I have been thinking a good deal lately about 
Maria and her associates in school here." 

"Why, what is the matter with them?" Harry asked, 

"Oh, I don't know that there is anything very serious 
I2 5 


the matter with them, but Maria is at an age when she 
is very impressible, and there are many who are not ex- 
actly desirable. There is Gladys Mann, for instance. 
I saw Maria walking down the street with her the other 
day. Now, Harry, you know that Gladys Mann is not 
exactly the kind of girl whom Maria's own mother would 
have chosen for an intimate friend for her." 

"You are right, " Harry said, frowning. 

"Well, I have been thinking over the number of pupils 
of both sexes in the school who can be called degenerates, 
either in mind or morals, and I must say I was alarmed." 

"Well, what is to be done?" asked Harry, moodily. 
"Maria must go to school, of course." 

"Yes, of course, Maria must have a good education, 
as good as if her own mother had lived." 

"Well, what is to be done, then?" 

Then Ida came straight to the point. "The only way 
I can see is to remove her from doubtful associates." 

"Remove her?" repeated Harry, blankly. 

"Yes; send her away to school. Wellbridge Hall, in 
Emerson, where I went myself, would be a very good 
school. It is not expensive." 

Harry stared. "But, Ida, she is too young." 

"Not at all." 

"You were older when you went there." 
"A little older." 

"How far is Emerson from here?" 

"Only a night's journey from New York. You go to 
sleep in your berth, and in the morning you are there. 
You could always see her off. It is very easy." 

"Send Maria away! Ida, it is out of the question. 
Aside from anything else, there is the expense. Lam 
living up to my income as it is." 

"Oh," said Ida — she gave her head a noble toss, and 
spoke impressively — "I am prepared to go without my- 
self to make it possible for you to meet her bills. You 



know I spoke the other day of a new lace dress. Well, 
that would cost at least a hundred; I will go without 
that. And I wanted some new portieres for my room; 
I will go without them. That means, say, fifty more. 
And you know the dining-room rug looks very shabby. 

I was thinking we must have an Eastern rug, which 
would cost at least one hundred and fifty; I thought it 
would pay in the end. Well, I am prepared to give that 
up and have a domestic, which only costs twenty-five; 
that is a hundred and twenty-five more saved. And I 
had planned to have my seal-skin coat made over after 
Christmas, and you know you cannot have seal-skin 
touched under a hundred; there is a hundred more. 
There are three hundred and seventy-five saved, which 
will pay for Maria's tuition for a year, and enough over 
for travelling expenses.' ' Nothing could have exceeded 
the expression of lofty virtue of Ida Edgham when she 
concluded her speech. As for her own selfish considera- 
tions, those, as always, she thought of only as her duty. 
Ida established always a clear case of conscience in all 
her dealings for her own interests. 

But Harry continued to frown. The childish droop 
of his handsome mouth became more pronounced. ■ 

II I don't like the idea," he said, quite sturdily for 

" Suppose we leave it to Maria," said Ida. 

"I really think," said Harry, in almost a fretful tone, 
" that you exaggerate. I hardly think there is anything 
so very objectionable about her associates here. I will 
admit that many of the children come from what we 
call the poor whites, but after all their main vice is 
shiftlessness, and Maria is not very likely to become 
contaminated with that." 

" Why, Harry, my dear, that is the very least of their 

"What else?" 



"Why, you know that they are notoriously light- 
fingered/ 9 

"My dear Ida, you don't mean to say that you think 
Maria — " 

" Why, of course not, Harry, but aside from that, their 

Harry rose from his chair and walked across the room 

"My dear Ida," he said, "you are exaggerating now. 
Maria is simply not that kind of a girl; and, besides, I 
don't know that she does see so much of those people, 

"Gladys Mann—" 

"Well, I never heard any harm of that poor little 
runt. On the other side, Ida, I should think Maria's 
influence over her for good was to be taken into con- 

" I hope you don't mean Maria to be a home mission- 
ary?" said Ida. 

"She might go to school for a worse purpose," replied 
Harry, simply. "Maria has a very strong character 
from her mother, if not from her father. I actually 
think the chances are that the Mann girl will have a 
better chance of getting good from Maria than Maria 
evil from her." 

"Well, dear, suppose we leave it to Maria herself," 
said Ida. "Nobody is going to force the dear child 
away against her will, of course." 

"Very well," said Harry. His face still retained a 
slightly sulky, disturbed expression. 

Ida, after a furtive glance at him, took up a sheet of 
the Sunday paper, and began swaying back and forth 
gracefully in her rocking-chair, as she read it. 

"How foolish all this sentiment about that murderer 
in the Tombs is," said she presently. "They are actu- 
ally going to give him a Christmas-tree." 



"He is only a boy," said Harry absently. 
"I know that — but the idea!" 

Just then Maria passed the window, dragging little 
Evelyn in her white sledge. Ida rose with a motion of 
unusual quickness for her, but Harry stopped her as she 
was about to leave the room. 

"Don't go out, Ida," he said, with a peremptoriness 
which sat strangely upon him. 

Ida stared at him. "Why, why not?" she asked. 
"I wanted to take Evelyn out. You know Josephine 
is not here." 

"She is getting out all right with Maria's help; sit 
down, Ida," said Harry, still with that tone of com- 
mand which was so foreign to him. 

Ida hesitated a second, then she sat down. She re- 
alized the grace and policy of yielding in a minor point, 
when she had a large one in view. Then, too, she was 
in reality rather vulnerable to a sudden attack, for a 
moment, although she was always as a rule sure of 
ultimate victory. She was at a loss, moreover, to com- 
prehend Harry's manner, which was easily enough un- 
derstood. He wished to be the first to ascertain Maria's 
sentiments with regard to going away to school. With- 
out admitting it even to himself, he distrusted his wife's 
methods and entire frankness. 

Presently Maria entered, leading little Evelyn, who 
was unusually sturdy on her legs for her age. She 
walked quite steadily, with an occasional little hop and 
skip of exuberant childhood. 

She could talk a little, in disconnected sentences, with 
fascinating mistakes in the sounds of letters, but she 
preferred a gurgle of laughter when she was pleased, 
and a wail of woe when things went wrong. She was 
still in the limbos of primitivism. She was young with 
the babyhood of the world. To-day she danced up to 
her father with her little trill of laughter, at once as mean- 



ingless and as full of meaning as the trill of a canary. 
She pursed up her little lips for a kiss, she flung frantic 
arms of adoration around his neck. She clung to him, 
when he lifted her, with all her little embracing limbs; 
^he pressed her lovely, cool, rosy cheek against his, and 
laughed again. 

"Now go and kiss mamma," said Harry. 

But the baby resisted with a little, petulant murmur 
when he tried to set her down. She still clung to him. 
Harry whispered in her ear. 

"Go and kiss mamma, darling. " 

But Evelyn shook her head emphatically against his 
face. Maria, almost as radiant in her youth as the 
child, stood behind her. She glanced uneasily at Ida. 
She held the white fur robes and wraps which she had 
brought in from the sledge. 

"Take those things out and let Emma put them 
away, dear,' ' Ida said to her. She smiled, but her voice 
still retained its involuntary harshness. 

Maria obeyed with an uneasy glance at little Evelyn. 
She knew that her step-mother was angry because the 
baby would not kiss her. When she was out in the 
dining-room, giving the fluffy white things to the maid, 
she heard a shriek, half of grief, half of angry dissent, 
from the baby. She immediately ran back into the 
parlor. Ida was removing the child's outer garments, 
smiling as ever, and with seeming gentleness, but Maria 
had a conviction that her touch on the tender flesh of 
the child was as the touch of steel. Little Evelyn strug- 
gled to get to her sister when she saw her, but Ida held 
her firmly. 

"Stand still, darling, " she said. It was inconceivable 
how she could say darling without the loving inflection 
which alone gave the word its full meaning. 

"Stand still and let mamma take off baby's things, " 
said Harry, and there was no lack of affectionate ca- 



dences in his voice. He privately thought that he him- 
self could have taken off the child's wraps better than 
his wife, but he recognized her rights in the matter. 
Harry remembering his first wife, with her child, was in 
a state of constant bewilderment at the sight of his sec- 
ond with hers. He had always had the masculine 
opinion that women, in certain primeval respects, were 
cut on one pattern, and his opinion was being rudely 

"Call Emma, please, " said Ida to Maria, and Maria 

When the maid came in, Ida directed her to take the 
child up -stairs and put on another frock. 

Maria was about to follow, but Harry stopped her. 
" Maria, " said he. 

Maria stopped, and eyed her father with surprise. 

" Maria, " said Harry, bluntly, "your mother and I 
have been talking about your going away to school." 

Maria turned slightly pale and continued to stare at 
him, but she said nothing. 

"She thinks, and I don't know but she is right," said 
Harry, with painful loyalty, "that your associates here 
are not just the proper ones for you, and that it would 
be much better for you to go to boarding-school." 

"How much would it cost?" asked Maria, in a dazed 
voice. The question sounded like her own mother. 

"Father can manage that; you need not trouble your- 
self about that," replied Harry, hurriedly. 

"Where?" said Maria, then. 

"To a nice school where your mother was educated." 

"My mother?" 

"Ida— to Wellbridge Hall." 

"How often should I come home and see you and 
Evelyn ? Every week ?" 

"I am afraid not, dear," said Harry, uneasily. 
"How long are the terms?" asked Maria. 



"Only about twelve weeks," said Ida. 

Maria stood staring from one to the other. Her face 
had turned deadly pale, and had, moreover, taken on 
an expression of despair and isolation. Somehow, al- 
though the little girl was only a few feet from the others, 
she had a look as if she were leagues off, as if she were 
outside something vital, which removed her, in fact, to 
immeasurable distances. And, in fact, Maria had a feel- 
ing which never afterwards wholly left her, of being out- 
side the love of life in which she had hitherto dwelt with 

"Maybe you would like it, dear," Harry said, feebly. 

"I will go," Maria said, in a choking voice. Then she 
turned without another word and went out of the room, 
up-stairs to her own little chamber. When there she 
sat down beside the window. She did not think. She 
did not seem to feel her hands and feet. It was as if 
she had fallen from a height. The realization that her 
father and his new wife wanted to send her away, that 
she was not wanted in her home, stunned her. 

But in a moment the door was flung open and her 
father entered. He knelt down beside Maria and pulled 
her head to his shoulder and kissed her, and she felt with 
a sort of dull wonder his face damp against her own. 

"Father's little girl!" said Harry. "Father's own 
little girl! Father's blessing! Did she think he wanted 
to send her away? I rather guess he didn't. How 
would father get along without his own precious baby, 
when he came home at night. She sha'n't go one step. 
She needn't fret a bit about it." 

Maria turned and regarded him with a frozen look 
still on her face. " It was She that wanted me to go ?" 
she said, interrogatively. 

"She thought maybe it would be best for you, dar- 
ling," said Harry. "She means to do right by you, 
Maria; you must try to think so." 



Maria said nothing. 

"But father isn't going to let you go," said Harry. 
"He can't do without his little girl." 

Then Maria's strange calm broke up. She clung, 
weeping, to her father, as if he were her only stay. 
Harry continued to soothe her. 

"Father's blessing!" he whispered in her ear. "She 
was the best little girl that ever was. She is just like 
her own dear mother." 

"I wish mother was back," Maria whispered, her 
whisper stifled against his ear. 

"Oh, my God, so do I!" Harry said, with a half sob. 
For the minute the true significance of his position 
overwhelmed him. He felt a regret, a remembrance, 
that was a passion. He realized, with no disguise, what 
it all meant: that he a man with the weakness of a 
child in the hands of a masterly woman, had formerly 
been in the leading-strings of love for himself, for his 
own best good, whereas he was now in the grasp of the 
self-love of another who cared for him only as he pro- 
moted her own interests. In a moment, however, he 
recovered himself. After all, he had a sense of loyalty 
and duty which amounted to positive strength. He put 
Maria gently from him with another kiss. 

"Well, this won't bring your mother back, dear," he 
said, "and God took her away, you know, and what He 
does is for the best; and She means to do her duty by 
you, you know, dear. She thought it would be better 
for you, but father can't spare you, that's all there is 
about it." 


It was an utter impossibility for Ida Edgham to be 
entirely balked of any purpose which she might form. 
There was something at once impressive and terrible 
about the strength of this beautiful, smiling creature's 
will, about its silence, its impassibility before obstacles, 
its persistency. It was as inevitable and unswervable 
as an avalanche or a cyclone. People might shriek out 
against it and struggle, but on it came, a mighty force, 
overwhelming petty things as well as great ones. It 
really seemed a pity, taking into consideration Ida's 
tremendous strength of character, that she had not some 
great national purpose upon which to exert herself, 
instead of such trivial domestic ones. 

Ida realized that she could not send Maria to the 
school which she had proposed. Her strength had that 
subtlety which acknowledges its limitations and its 
closed doors, and can look about for other means and 
ways. Therefore, when Harry came down-stairs that 
Sunday afternoon, his face working with emotion but 
his eyes filled with a steady light, and said, with no 
preface, "It's no use talking, Ida, that child does not 
want to go, and she shall never be driven from under 
my roof, while I live, ,, Ida only smiled, and replied, 
" Very well, dear, I only meant it for her good." 

"She is not going, " Harry said doggedly. 

Harry resumed his seat with a gesture of defiance 
which was absurd, from its utter lack of any response 
from his wife. It was like tilting with a windmill. 

Ida continued to sway gently back and forth, and smile. 


"I think if the Adamses do come in to-night we will 
have a little salad, there will be enough left from the 
chicken, and some cake and tea," she observed present- 
ly. "We won't have the table set, because both the 
maids have asked to go out, but Maria can put on my 
India muslin apron and pass the things. I will have 
the salad made before they go, and I will make the tea. 
We can have it on the table in here." Ida indicated, 
by a graceful motion of her shoulder, a pretty little tea- 
table loaded with Dresden china. 

"All right," replied Harry, with a baffled tone. He 
felt baffled without knowing exactly why. 

Ida took up another sheet of the Herald, a fashion 
page was uppermost. She read something and smiled. 
"It says that gowns made like Maria's new one are the 
most fetching ones of the season," she said. "I am so 
glad I had the skirt plaited." 

Harry made a gesture of assent. He felt, without in 
the least knowing why, like a man who had been com- 
pletely worsted in a hand-to-hand combat. He felt 
humiliated and unhappy. His first wife, even with 
her high temper and her ready tongue, had never 
caused him such a sense of abjectness. He had often 
felt angry with her, but never with himself. She had 
never really attacked his self-respect as this woman did. 
He did not dare look up from his newspaper for a while, 
for he realized that he should experience agony at see- 
ing the beautiful, radiant face of his second wife oppo- 
site him instead of the worn, stern, but altogether loving 
and single-hearted face of his first. He was glad when 
Maria came down-stairs, and looked up and greeted her 
with a smile of reassuring confidence. Maria's pretty 
little face was still tear-stained, although she had bathed 
it with cold water. She also took up a sheet of the 
Sunday paper. 

" Did you see Alice Lundy's new hat in church to-day, 
x 35 


dear?" Ida presently asked her, and her manner was 
exactly as if nothing had occurred to disturb anybody. 

Maria looked at her with a sort of wonder, which 
made her honest face almost idiotic. 

"No, ma'am," said she. 

Maria had been taught to say "yes, ma'am" and "no, 
ma'am" by her own mother, whose ideas of etiquette 
were old-fashioned, and dated from the precepts of her 
own childhood. 

"It is a little better not to say ma'am," said Ida, 
sweetly. "I think that expression is not used so much 
as formerly." 

Maria looked at her with a quick defiance, which 
gave her an almost startling resemblance to her own 

"Yes, ma'am," said she. 

Harry's mouth twitched behind his paper. Ida said 
no more. She continued to smile, but she was not 
reading the paper which she held. She was making 
new plans to gain her own ends. She was seeking new 
doors of liberty for her own ways, in lieu of those which 
she saw were closed to her, and by the time dinner was 
served she was quite sure that she had succeeded. 

The next autumn, Maria began attending the Elliot 
Academy, in Wardway. The Elliot Academy was an 
endowed school of a very high standing, and Wardway 
was a large town, almost a city, about fifteen miles from 
Edgham. When this plan was broached by Ida, Maria 
did not make any opposition ; she was secretly delighted. 
Wollaston Lee was going to the Elliot Academy that 
autumn, and there was another Edgham girl and her 
brother, besides Maria, who were going. 

" Now, darling, you need not go to the Elliot Academy 
any more than to the other school she proposed, if you 
don't want to," Harry told Maria, privately, one Satur- 



day afternoon in September, shortly before the term 

Ida had gone to her club, and Harry had come home 
early from the city, and he and Maria were alone in the 
parlor. Evelyn was having her nap up-stairs. A high 
wind was roaring about the house. A cherry-tree be- 
side the house was fast losing its leaves in a yellow 
rain. In front of the window, a hydrangea bush, tipped 
with magnificent green-and-rosy plumes, swayed in all 
its limbs like a living thing. Somewhere up-stairs a 
blind banged. 

"I think I would like to go," Maria replied, hurriedly. 
Then she jumped up. "That blind will wake Evelyn," 
she said, and ran out of the room. 

She had colored unaccountably when her father spoke. 
When she returned, she had a demure, secretive expres- 
sion on her face which made Harry stare at her in be- 
wilderment. All his life Harry Edgham had been help- 
less and bewildered before womenkind, and now his 
little daughter was beginning to perplex him. She sat 
down and took up a piece of fancy-work, and her fa- 
ther continued to glance at her furtively over his paper. 
Presently he spoke of the academy again. 

"You need not go if you do not want to," he repeated. 

Then again Maria's delicate little face and neck be- 
came suffused with pink. Her reply was not as loud 
nor more intelligible than the murmur of the trees out- 
side in the wind. 

V What did you say, darling ?" asked Harry. " Father 
did not understand." 

" I would like to go there," Maria replied, in her sweet, 
decisive little pipe. A fresh wave of color swept over 
her face and neck, and she selected with great care a 
thread from a skein of linen floss. 

"Well, she thought you might like that," Harry said, 
with an air of relief. 



"Maud Page is going, too," said Maria. 

"Is she? That will be nice. You won't have to go 
back and forth alone," said Harry. 

Maria said nothing; she continued her work. 

Her father turned his paper and looked at the stock- 
list. Once he had owned a hundred shares of one of 
the Industrials. He had long since sold out, not at a 
loss, but the stock had risen since. He always noted it 
with an odd feeling of proprietorship, in spite of not 
owning any. He saw with pride that it had advanced 
half a point. 

Maria worked silently ; and as she worked she dream- 
ed, and the dream was visible on her face, had any one 
been astute enough to understand it. She was working 
a lace collar to wear with a certain blue blouse, and upon 
that flimsy keystone was erecting an air-castle. She 
was going to the Elliot Academy, wearing the blue blouse 
and the lace collar, and looking so lovely that Wollaston 
Lee worshipped her. She invented little love-scenes, 
love-words, and caresses. She blushed, and dimples 
appeared at the corners of her mouth, the blue light of 
her eyes under her downcast lids was like the light of 
living gems. She viewed with complacency her little, 
soft white hands plying the needle. Maria had hands 
like a little princess. She cast a glance at the toe of her 
tiny shoe. She remembered how somebody had told 
her to keep her shoulders straight, and she threw them 
back with a charming motion, as if they had been wings. 
She was entirely oblivious of her father's covert glances. 
She was solitary, isolated in the crystal of her own 
thoughts. Presently, Evelyn woke and cried, and Maria 
roused herself with a start and ran up -stairs. Soon 
the two came into the room, Evelyn dancing with the 
uncertain motion of a winged seed on a spring wind. 
She was charming. One round cheek was more deeply 
flushed than the other, and creased with the pillow. 



Her yellow hair, fine and soft and full of electric life, 
tossed like a little crest. She ran with both fat little 
hands spread palms outward, and pounced violently 
upon her father. Harry rolled her about on his knee, 
and played with her as if she had been a kitten. Maria 
stood by laughing. The child was fairly screaming with 

A graceful figure passed the window, its garments 
tightly wrapped by the wind, flying out like a flag 
behind. Harry set the little girl down at once. 

' 'Here is mamma coming/ ' said he. "Go to sister 
and she will show you the pictures in the book papa 
brought home the other day." 

Evelyn obeyed. She was a docile little thing, and 
she had a fear of her mother without knowing why. 
She was sitting beside Maria, looking demurely at the 
pictures which her sister pointed out to her, when Ida 

"See the horsey running away," said Maria. Then 
she added in a whisper, "Go and kiss mamma, baby." 

The child hesitated, then she rose, and ran to her 
mother, who stooped her radiant face over her and 
kissed her coolly. 

" Have you been a good little girl?" asked she. Ida 
was looking particularly self-satisfied to day, and more 
disposed consequently to question others as to their be- 

" Yeth," replied Evelyn, without the slightest hesita- 
tion. A happy belief in her own merits was an inheri- 
tance from her mother. As yet it was more charming 
than otherwise, for the baby had unquestionable merits 
in which to believe. Harry and Maria laughed. 

" Mamma is very glad," said Ida. She did not laugh; 
she saw no humor in it. She turned to Harry. " I think 
I will go in on the early train with you to-morrow, dear, 
she said. "I want to see about Maria's new dress." 



Then she turned to Maria. " I have been in to see Miss 
Keeler," said she, "and she says she can make it for 
you next week, so you can have it when you begin 
school. I thought of brown with a touch of blue and 
burnt-orange. How would you like that?" 

"I think that would be perfectly lovely," said Maria 
with enthusiasm. She cast a grateful look at her step- 
mother, almost a look of affection. She was always very 
grateful to Ida for her new clothes, and just now clothes 
had a more vital interest for her than ever. She took 
another stitch in her collar, with Evelyn leaning against 
her and kicking out first one chubby leg, then the other, 
and she immediately erected new air-castles, in which 
she figured in her brown suit with the touches of burnt- 
orange and blue. 

A week later, when she started on the train for Ward- 
way in her new attire, she felt entirely satisfied with 
herself and life in general. She was conscious of look- 
ing charming in her new suit of brown, with the touches 
of blue and burnt-orange, and her new hat, also brown 
with blue and burnt-orange glimpses in the trimmings. 
Wollaston Lee got on the same car and sat behind her. 
Maud Page, the other Edgham girl who was going to 
the academy, had a cousin in Wardway, and had gone 
there the night before. There were only Maria, Wollas- 
ton, and Edwin Shaw, who sat by himself in a corner, 
facing the other passengers with a slightly shamed, 
sulky expression. He was very tall, and had blacked 
his shoes well, and the black light from them seemed 
to him obtrusive, the more so beause his feet were very 
large. He looked out of the window as the train left 
the station, and saw a very pretty little child with a 
fluff of yellow hair, carrying a big doll, climbing labori- 
ously on a train on the other track, with the tender 
assistance of a brakeman. She was in the wake of a 
very stout woman, who stumbled on her skirts going 




up the steps. Edwin Shaw thought that the child 
looked like Maria's little sister, but that she could not 
be, because the stout woman was a stranger to him. 
Then he thought no more about it. He gazed covertly 
at Maria, with the black sparkles of his shoes continuing 
to disturb him. He admired Maria. Presently he saw 
Wollaston Lee lean over the back of her seat and say 
something to her, and saw her half turn and dimple, 
and noticed how the lovely rose flushed the curve of 
her cheek, and he scowled at his shiny shoes. 

As for Maria, when she felt the boy's warm breath on 
her neck, her heart beat fast. She realized herself on 
the portals of an air-castle. 

"Well, glad you are going to leave this old town?" 
said Wollaston. 

"I am not going to leave it, really," replied Maria. 

" Oh, of course not, but you are going to leave the old 
school, anyhow. I had got mighty tired of it, hadn't 

"Yes, I had, rather." 

"It's behind the times," said the boy; and, as he 
spoke he himself looked quite up to the times. He had 
handsome, clearly cut features and black eyes, which 
seemed at the same time to demand and question. He 
had something of a supercilious air, although the ex- 
pression of youthful innocence and honesty was still 
evident on his face. He wore a new suit as well as 
Maria, only his was gray instead of brown, and he wore 
a red carnation in his button-hole. Maria inhaled the 
clovy fragrance of it. At the next station more passen- 
gers got into the train, and Wollaston seized upon that 
excuse to ask to share Maria's seat. They talked in- 
cessantly — an utterly foolish gabble like that of young 
birds. An old gentleman across the aisle cast an im- 
patient glance at them from time to time. Finally he 
arose stiffly and went into the smoker. Their youth 



and braggadocio of innocence and ignorance, and the 
remembrance of his own, irritated him. He did not in 
the least regret his youth, but the recollection of the 
first stages of his life, now that he was so near the end, 
was like looking backward over a long road, which had 
led to absurdly different goals from what he had imag- 
ined. It all seemed inconceivable, silly and futile to 
him, what he had done, and what they were doing. He 
cast a furious glance at them as he passed out, but 
neither noticed it. Wollaston said something, and 
Maria laughed an inane little giggle which was still 
musical, and trilled through the car. Maria's cheeks 
were burning, and she seldom looked at the boy at her 
side, but oftener at the young autumn landscape through 
which they were passing. The trees had scarcely begun 
to turn, but here and there one flamed out like a gold 
or red torch among the green, and all the way-sides were 
blue and gold with asters and golden-rod. It was a 
very warm morning for the season. When they stopped 
at one of the stations, a yellow butterfly flew in through 
an open window and flitted airily about the car. Maria 
removed her coat, with the solicitous aid of her com- 
panion. She cast a conscious glance at the orange and 
blue on her sleeves. 

"Say, that dress is a stunner!" whispered Wollaston. 

Maria laughed happily. "Glad you like it," said 

Before they reached Wardway, Wollaston's red carna- 
tion was fastened at one side of her embroidered vest, 
making a discord of color which, for Maria, was a har- 
mony of young love and romance. 

"That is the academy," said Wollaston, as the train 
rolled into Wardway. He pointed to a great brick 
structure at the right — a main building flanked by 
enormous wings. "Are you frightened?" he asked. 

"I guess not," replied Maria, but she was. 



"You needn't be a bit," said the boy. " I know some 
of the boys that go there, and I went to see the principal 
with father. He's real pleasant. I know the Latin 
teacher, Miss Durgin, too. My Uncle Frank married 
her cousin, and she has been to my house. You'll be in 
her class." Wollaston spoke with a protective warmth 
for which Maria was very grateful. 

She had a very successful although somewhat con- 
fused day. She was asked this and that and led hither 
and yon, and so surrounded by strange faces and sights 
that she felt fairly dizzy. She felt more herself at lunch- 
eon, when she sat beside Maud Page in the dining-hall, 
with Wollaston opposite. There was a restaurant at- 
tached to the academy, for the benefit of the out-of-town 

When Maria went down to the station to take her 
train for home, Maud Page was there, and Wollaston. 
There was a long time to wait. They went out in a 
field opposite and picked great bunches of golden-rod, 
and the girls pinned them on their coats. Edwin Shaw 
was lingering about the station when they returned, but 
he was too shy to speak to them. When the train at 
last came in, Maria, with a duplicity which shamed her 
in thinking of it afterwards, managed to get away from 
Maud, and enter the car at the same time with Wollas- 
ton, who seated himself beside her as a matter of course. 
It was still quite light, but it had grown cold. Every- 
thing had a cold look — the clear cowslip sky, with its reefs 
of violet clouds; even the trees tossed crisply, as if 
stiffened with cold. 

"Hope we won't have a frost," said Wollaston, as 
they got off at Edgham. 

"I hope not," said Maria; and then Gladys Mann ran 
up to her, crying out: 

"Say, Maria, Maria, did you know your little sister 
was lost?" 



Maria turned deadly white. Wollaston caught hold 
of her little arm in its brown sleeve. 

"When was she lost?" he asked, fiercely, of Gladys. 
" Don't you know any better than to rush right at any- 
body with such a thing as that? Don't you be fright- 
ened, Maria. I'll find her." 

A little knot of passengers from the train gathered 
around them. Gladys was pale herself, and had a 
strong sense of the sadness of the occasion, still she had 
a feeling of importance. Edwin Shaw came lumbering 
up timidly, and Maud Page pressed quickly to Maria's 
side with a swirl of her wide skirts. 

" Gladys Mann, what on earth are you talking about ?" 
said she, sharply. "Who's lost?" 

"Maria's little sister." 

"Hm! I don't believe a word of it." 

"She is, so there! Nobody has seen a sign of her 
since morning, and Maria's pa's most crazy. He's been 
sending telegrams all round. Maria's step-mother, she 
telegraphed for him to come home, and he come at noon, 
and he sent telegrams all round, and then he went him- 
self an hour ago." 

"Went where?" 

"Back to New York. Guess he's gone huntin* him- 
self. Guess he thought he could hunt better than 
policemen. Maria's step-mother don't act scared, but 
I guess she is, awful. My mummer says that folks that 
bear up the best are the ones that feel things most. My 
mummer went over to see if she could do anything and 
see how she took it." 

"When was she lost?" gasped Maria. She was shak- 
ing from head to foot. 

"Your step-mother went down to the store, and when 
she got back the baby was gone. Josephine said she 
hadn't seen her after you had started for Wardway, 
She took her doll with her." 



" Where ?" gasped Maria. 

"Nobody knows where," said Gladys, severely, al- 
though the tears were streaming down her own grimy 
cheeks. 44 She wouldn't be lost, would she, if folks knew 
where she was ? Nothin' ain't never lost when you know 
where it is unless you drop it down a well, and you 'ain't 
got no well, have you, Maria Edgham?" 

"No," said Maria. She was conscious of an absurd 
thankfulness and relief that she had no well. 

"And there ain't no pond round here big enough to 
drown a baby kitten, except that little mud-puddle up 
at Fisher's, and they've dragged every inch of that. I 
see 'em." 

All this time Edwin Shaw had been teetering on un- 
certain toes on the borders of the crowd. He remem- 
bered the child with the doll whom he had seen climbing 
into the New York train in the morning, and he was 
eager to tell of it, to make himself of importance, but 
he was afraid. After all, the child might not have been 
Evelyn. There were so many little, yellow-haired things 
with dolls to be seen about, and then there was the stout 
woman to be accounted for. Edwin never doubted that 
the child had been with the stout woman whom he had 
seen stumbling over her voluminous skirts up the car 
steps. At last he stepped forward and spoke, with a 
moist blush overspreading his face, toeing in and teeter- 
ing with embarrassment. 

44 Say," he began. 

The attention of the whole company was at once riv- 
eted upon him. He wriggled ; the blood looked as if it 
would burst through his face. Great drops of perspiration 
stood upon his forehead. He stammered when he spoke. 
He caught a glimpse of Maria's blue-and-orange trim- 
mings, and looked down, and again the black light of 
his shoes, which all the dust of the day had not seemed 
to dim, flashed in his eyes. He came of a rather illiterate 



family with aspirations, and when he was nervous he 
had a habit of relapsing into the dialect in common use 
in his own home, regardless of his educational attain- 
ments. He did so now. 

"I think she has went to New York," he said. 

"Who?" demanded Wollaston, eagerly. His head 
was up like a hunting hound; he kept close hold of 
Maria's little arm. 



"Her little sister-in-law." Edwin pointed to Maria. 

Gladys Mann went peremptorily up to Edwin Shaw, 
seized his coat -collar, and shook him. "For goodness 
sake! when did she went?" she demanded. " When did 
you see her? If you know anythin', tell it, an' not 
stand thar like a fool!" 

"I saw a little girl jest about her size, a-carryin' of a 
doll, that clim on the New York train jest as we went 
out this mornin'," replied Edwin with a gasp, as if the 
information were wrung from him by torture. "And 
she was with a awful fat woman. Leastways — " 

"A fat woman!" cried Wollaston Lee. " Who was the 
fat woman?" 

"I hadn't never saw her afore. She was awful fat, 
and was a steppin' on her dress." 

Wollaston was keen-witted, and he immediately grasp- 
ed at the truth of the matter. 

"You idiot!" he said. "What makes you think she 
was with the stout woman — just because she was climb- 
ing into the train after her?" 

"Little girls don't never go to New York alone with 
dolls," vouchsafed Edwin, more idiotically than ever. 
"Leastways — " 

"If you don't stop saying leastways, I'll punch your 
head," said Wollaston. "Are you sure the child was 
Maria's little sister?" 



" Looked like her," said Edwin, shrinking back a little. 
" Leastways — " 

" What was she dressed in?" asked Maria, eagerly. 

"I didn't see as she had nothin' on." 

"You great gump!" said Gladys, shaking him ener- 
getically. "Of course she had something on." 

"She had a big doll." 

"What did she have on? You answer me this min- 
ute!" said Gladys. 

"She might have had on a blue dress," admitted 
Edwin, with a frantic grasp at his memory, "but she 
didn't have nothin' on her, nohow. Leastways — " 

"Oh!" sobbed Maria, "she did wear her little blue 
dress this morning. She did! Was her hair light?" 

" Yes, it were," said Edwin, quite positively. " Least- 
ways — " 

"It was Evelyn," sobbed Maria. "Oh, poor little 
Evelyn, all alone in New York! She never went but 
once with Her and me, and she wouldn't know where 
to go. Oh, oh!" 

"Where did she go when she went with your step-ma 
and you?" demanded Gladys, who seemed to have sud- 
denly developed unusual acumen. Her face was stream- 
ing with tears but her voice was keen. 

" She went to Her cousin's, who lives in an apartment 
in West Forty-ninth Street," said Maria. 

" She'd try to go there again," said Gladys. " Did she 
know the woman's name?" 

"Yes, she did." 

" You bet she did. She was an awful bright kid," said 
Gladys. "Now, I tell you what, Maria, I shouldn't a 
mite wonder if your step-ma had had a telegram from 
her cousin by this time, that she was to her house. 
You'd better jest run home an' see." 

"She was only her third cousin," said Maria, "and 
She hardly ever heard from her. It was only the other 



day I heard Her say that she didn't know but she had 
left New York. I don't think Her cousin liked her very 

"What was the cousin's name?" 

"She called her Alice, but her name was Mrs. George 
B. Edison." 

"That's jest where the kid has went," said Gladys. 
"You go right home, M'ria. We'll go with you, and 
I'll bet a cooky you'll find that your step-ma has had a 

Maria hesitated a moment; then she started, Wol- 
laston Lee still keeping close hold of her arm. Gladys 
was on the other side. 


When Maria reached home, she pushed open the front 
door, which was unlocked, and rushed violently in. 
Wollaston and Gladys followed her, after a slight hesi- 
tation, but remained standing in the vestibule. When 
Maria had come in sight of the house, she had perceived 
the regular motion of a rocking female head past the 
parlor light, and she knew that it was Ida. Ida nearly 
always occupied a rocking-chair, and was fond of the 
gentle, swaying motion. 

" There she is, rocking just as if the baby wasn't lost," 
Maria thought, with the bitterest revulsion and sarcasm. 
When she opened the door she immediately smelled 
tea, the odor of broiling beefsteak and fried potatoes. 
" Eating just as if the baby wasn't lost," she thought. 
She rushed into the parlor, and there was Ida swaying 
back and forth in her rocking-chair, and there were 
three ladies with her. One was Mrs. Jonas White; one 
was a very smartly dressed woman, Mrs. Adams, per- 
haps the most intimate friend whom Ida had in Edg- 
ham; one was the wife of the minister whose church 
the Edghams attended, Mrs. Applegate, or, as she was 
called, Mrs. Dr. Applegate — her husband had a degree. 
Her sister had just died and she was dressed in the 
deepest mourning ; sitting in the shade in a corner, she 
produced a curious effect of a vacuum of grief. Mrs. 
Adams, who was quite young and very pretty, stout and 
blond, was talking eagerly; Mrs. Jonas White was sniff- 
ing quietly; Mrs. Applegate, who was ponderously re- 
ligious, asked once in a while, in a subdued manner, if 



Mrs. Edgham did not think it would be advisable to 
unite in prayer. 

Ida made no reply. She continued to rock, and she 
had a curious set expression. Her lips were resolutely 
compressed, as if to restrain that radiant smile of hers, 
which had become habitual with her. She looked 
straight ahead, keeping her eyes fastened upon a Tiffany 
vase which stood on a little shelf, a glow of pink and gold 
against a skilful background of crimson velvet. It was 
as if she were having her photograph taken and had 
been requested by the photographer to keep her eyes 
fixed upon that vase. 

''The detective system of New York is so lax," said 
Mrs. Adams. " I do wish there was more system among 
them and among the police. One would feel — " She 
heaved a deep sigh. 

Mrs. Jonas White sobbed audibly. 

"Do you not think, dear friends, that it would be a 
good plan to offer up our voices at the Throne of Grace 
for the dear child's return?" asked Mrs. Applegate in a 
solemn voice, albeit somewhat diffidently. She was a 
corpulent woman, and was richly dressed, in spite of 
her deep mourning. A jet brooch rimmed with pearls, 
gleamed out of the shadow where she sat. 

Ida continued to rock. 

"But," said Mrs. Adams, "a great many children are 
lost every year and found. Sometimes the system does 
really work in a manner to astonish any one. I should 
not be surprised at any minute to see Mr. Edgham or a 
policeman walking in with her. But — well — there is so 
much to be done. The other night, when Mr. Adams 
and I went in to hear Mrs. Fiske, we drove eight blocks 
after the performance without seeing one policeman." 

"I suppose, though, if you had been really attacked, 
a dozen would have sprung out from somewhere," said 
Mrs. White, in a tearful voice. Mrs. White could not 



have heard Satan himself assailed without a word in his 
defence, such was the maternal pity of her heart. 

"That was what Mr. Adams said," retorted Mrs. 
Adams, with some asperity, "and I told him that I 
would rather the dozen policemen were in evidence 
before I was shot and robbed than after. I had on all 
my rings, and my diamond sunburst/ ' 

"Do you not think, dear friend, that it would be a 
good plan to offer up our voices at the Throne of Grace 
for the safe restoration of the dear child?" asked Mrs. 
Applegate again. Her voice was sonorous, very much 
like her husband's. She felt that, so far as in her lay, 
she was taking his place. He was out of town. 

It was then that Maria rushed into the room. She 
ran straight up to her step-mother. The other women 
started. Ida continued to rock, and look at the Tiffany 
vase. It seemed as if she dared not take her eyes from 
it for fear of losing her expression. Then Maria spoke, 
and her voice did not sound like her own at all. It was 
accusatory, menacing. 

" Where is my little sister ?" she cried. " Where is she ?" 

Mrs. Jonas White rose, approached Maria, and put her 
arms around her caressingly. "You poor, dear child, " 
she sobbed, "I guess you do feel it. You did set a 
heap by that blessed little thing, didn't you?" 

"She is in the hands of the Lord," said Mrs. Apple- 

"If the police of New York were worth anything, she 
would be in the police station by this time," said Mrs. 
Adams, with a fierce toss of her pretty blond head. 

"We know not where His islands lift their fronded 
palms in air; we only know we cannot drift beyond 
His love and care," said Mrs. Applegate, with a solemn 
aside. Tears were in her own eyes, but she resolutely 
checked her impulse to weep. She felt that it would 
show a lack of faith. She was entirely in earnest. 

XX IS 1 


"Mebbe she is in the police-station," sobbed Mrs. 
White, continuing to embrace Maria. But Maria gave 
her a forcible push away, and again addressed herself 
to her step-mother. 

" Where is she?" she demanded. 

"Oh, you poor, dear child! Your ma don't know 
where she is, and she is so awful upset, she sets there 
jest like marble," said Mrs. White. 

''She isn't upset at all. You don't know her as well 
as I do," said Maria, mercilessly. "She thinks she 
ought to act upset, so she sits this way. She isn't up- 

"Oh, Maria!" gasped Mrs. White. 

"The child is out of her head," said Mrs. Adams, and 
yet she looked at Maria with covert approval. She was 
Ida's intimate friend, but in her heart of hearts she 
doubted her grief. She had once lost by death a little 
girl of her own. She kept thinking of her little Alice, and 
how she should feel in a similar case. It did not seem 
to her that she should rock, and look at a Tiffany vase. 
vShe inveighed against the detectives and police with a 
reserve meaning of indignation against Ida. It seemed 
to her that any woman whose child was lost should 
be up and generally making a tumult, if she were doing 
nothing else. 

Then Maria, standing before the beautiful woman 
swaying gently, with her eyes fixed upon the pink and 
gold of the vase, spoke out for the first time what was 
in her heart of hearts with regard to her. 

"You are a wicked woman," said she; "that is what 
you are. I don't know as you can help being wicked. 
I guess you were made wicked ; but you are a wicked 
woman. Your mouth smiles, but your heart never 
does. You act now as if you were sorry," said she, 
"but you are not sorry, the way my mother would have 
been sorry if she had lost me, the way she would have 



been sorry if Evelyn had been her little girl instead of 
yours. You are a wicked woman. I have always known 
it, but I have never told you so before. Now I am going 
to tell you. Your own child is lost, you let her be lost. 
You didn't look out for her. Yes, your own child is 
lost, and you sit there and rock!'' 

Ida for a moment made no reply. The other women, 
and Gladys and Wollaston in the vestibule, listened with 

" You have had beefsteak and fried potatoes cooked, 
too," continued Maria, sniffing, ''and you have eaten 
them. You have been eating beefsteak and fried pota- 
toes when your own child was lost and you did not 
know where she was!" It might have been ridiculous, 
this last accusation in the thin, sweet, childish voice, 
but it was not. It was even more terrible than any- 
thing else. 

Ida turned at last. " I hate you," she said slowly. 
"I have always hated you. You have hated me ever 
since I came into this house," she said, " though I have 
done more than your own mother ever did for you." 

"You have not!" cried Maria. "You have got nice 
clothes for me, but my own mother loved me. What 
are nice clothes to love? You have not even loved 
Evelyn. You have only got her nice clothes. You 
have never loved her. Poor papa and I were the only 
ones that loved her. You never even loved poor papa. 
You saw to it that he had things to eat, but you never 
loved him. You are not made right. All the love in 
your heart is for your own self. You are turned the 
wrong way. I don't know as you can help it, but you 
are a dreadful woman. You are wicked. You never 
loved the baby, and now you have let her be lost. She 
is my own little sister, and papa's child, a great deal 
more than she is anything to you. Where is she?" 
Maria's voice rang wild. Her face was blazing. She 



had an abnormal expression in her blue eyes fixed upon 
her step -mother. 

Ida, after her one outburst, gazed upon her with a 
sort of fear as well as repulsion. She again turned to 
the Tiffany vase. 

Mrs. White, sobbing aloud like a child, again put her 
arms around Maria. 

"Come, come," she said soothingly, "you poor child, 
I know how you feel, but you mustn't talk so, you 
mustn't, dear! You have no right to judge. You 
don't know how your mother feels." 

"I know how She doesn't feel!" Maria burst out, 
"and She isn't my mother. My mother loves me more 
way off in heaven than that woman loves Her own 
child on earth. She doesn't feel. She just rocks, and 
thinks how She looks. I hate Her! Let me go!" With 
that Maria was out of the room, and ran violently up- 

When she had gone, the three visiting women looked 
at one another, and the same covert expression of 
gratified malice, at some one having spoken out what 
was in their inmost hearts, was upon all three faces. 
Ida was impassive, with her smiling lips contracted. 
Mrs. Applegate again murmured something about unit-" 
ing in prayer. 

Maria came hurrying down-stairs. She had in her 
hand her purse, which contained ten dollars, which her 
father had given her on her birthday, also a book of 
New York tickets which had been a present from Ida, 
and which Ida herself had borrowed several times since 
giving them to Maria. Maria herself seldom went to 
New York, and Ida had a fashion of giving presents 
which might react to her own benefit. Maria, as she 
passed the parlor door, glanced in and saw her step- 
mother rocking and staring at the vase. Then she was 
out of the front-door, racing down the street with Wol- 



laston Lee and Gladys hardly able to keep up with her. 
Wollaston reached her finally, and again caught her arm. 
The pressure of the hard, warm boy hand was grateful 
to the little, hysterical thing, who was trembling from 
head to foot, with a strange rigidity of tremors. Gladys 
also clutched her other sleeve. 

"Say, M'ria Edgham, where be you goin' ?" she de- 

" I'm going to find my little sister," gasped out Maria. 
She gave a dry sob as she spoke. 
"My!" said Gladys. 

"Now, Maria, hadn't you better go back home?" 
ventured Wollaston. 

"No," said Maria, and she ran on towards the sta- 

" Come home with me to my mother," said Wollaston, 
pleadingly, but a little timidly. A girl in such a nervous 
strait as this was a new experience for him. 

"She can go home with me," said Gladys. "My 
mother's a heap better than Ida Slome. Say, M'ria, all 
them things you said was true, but land! how did you 

Maria made no reply, She kept on. 
"Say, M'ria, you don't mean you're goin' to New 
York?" said Gladys. 

"Yes, I am. I am going to find my little sister." 
"My!" said Gladys. 

" Now, Maria, don't you think you had better go home 
with me, and see mother?" Wollaston said again. 

But Maria seemed deaf. In fact, she heard nothing 
but the sound of the approaching New York train. She 
ran like a wild thing, her little, slim legs skimming the 
ground like a bird's, almost as if assisted by wings. 

When the train reached the station, Maria climbed in, 
Wollaston and Gladys after her. Neither Wollaston nor 
Gladys had the slightest premeditation in the matter; 


they were fairly swept along by the emotion of their 

When the train had fairly started, Gladys, who had 
seated herself beside Maria, while Wollaston was in the 
seat behind them, heaved a deep sigh of bewilderment 
and terror. "My!" said she. 

Wollaston also looked pale and bewildered. He was 
only a boy, and had never been thrown much upon his 
own responsibility. All that had been uppermost in 
his mind was the consideration that Maria could not 
be stopped, and she must not go alone to New York. 
But he did not know what to think of it all. He felt 
chaotic. The first thing which seemed to precipitate 
his mentality into anything like clearness was the en- 
trance of the conductor. Then he thought instinctively 
about money. Although still a boy, money as a prime 
factor was already firmly established in his mind. He 
reflected with dismay that he had only his Wardway 
tickets, and about three dollars beside. It was now 
dark. The vaguest visions of what they were to do in 
New York were in his head. The fare to New York 
was a little over a dollar; he had only enough to take 
them all in, then what next ? He took out his pocket- 
book, but Gladys looked around quickly. 

"She's got a whole book of tickets, " she said. 

However, Wollaston, who was proud, started to pay 
the conductor, but he had reached Maria first, and she 
had said "Three," peremptorily. Then she handed the 
book to Wollaston, with the grim little ghost of a smile. 
"You please keep this," said she. "I haven't got any 

Wollaston was so bewildered that the possession of 
pockets seemed instantly to restore his self-respect. He 
felt decidedly more at his ease when he had Maria's 
ticket-book in his innermost pocket. Then she gave 
him her purse also. 



14 1 wish you would please take this," said she. " There 
are ten dollars in it, and I haven't any pocket." Wol- 
laston took that. 

"All right," he said. He buttoned his gray vest 
securely over Maria's pretty little red purse. Then he 
leaned over the seat, and began to speak, but he abso- 
lutely did not know what to say. He made an idiotic 
remark about the darkness. " Queer how quick it grows 
dark, when it begins," said he. 

Maria ignored it, but Gladys said: "Yes, it is awful 

Gladys s eyes looked wild. The pupils were dilated. 
She had been to New York but once before in her life, 
and now to be going in the evening to find Maria's little 
sister was almost too much for her intelligence, which 
had its limitations. 

However, after a while, Wollaston Lee spoke again. 
He was in reality a keen-witted boy, only this was an 
emergency into which he had been surprised, and which he 
had not foreseen, and Maria's own abnormal mood had in 
a measure infected him. Presently he spoke to the point. 

"What on earth are you going to do when you get 
to New York, anyhow?" said he to Maria. 

"Find her," replied Maria, laconically. 

"But New York is a mighty big city. How do you 
mean to go to work. Now I — " 

Maria cut him short. "I am going right up to Her 
cousin's, on West Forty-ninth Street, and find out if 
Evelyn is there," said she. 

"But what would make the child want to go there, 

"It was the only place she had ever been in New 
York," said Maria. 

"But I don't see what particular reason she would 
have for going there, though," said Wollaston. " How 
would she remember the street and number?" 



"She was an awful bright kid," said Gladys, with a 
momentary lapse of reason, " and kids is queer. I know, 
'cause we've got so many of 'em to our house. Some- 
times they'll remember things you don't ever think they 
would. My little sister Maud remembers how my 
mother drowned five kittens oncet, when she was in long 
clothes. We knowed she did, 'cause when the cat had 
kittens next time we caught her trying to drown 'em 
herself. Kids is awful queer. Maud can't remember 
how to spell her own name, either, and she's most six 
now. She spells it M-a-u-d, when it had ought to be 
M-a-u-g-h-d. I shouldn't be one mite surprised if 
M'ria's little sister remembered the street and number." 

"Anyway, she knew her whole name, because I've 
heard her say it," said Maria. "Her cousin's name is 
Mrs. George B. Edison. Evelyn used to say it, and 
we used to laugh." 

"Oh, well, if she knew the name like that she might 
have found the place all right," said Wollaston. "But 
what puzzles me is why she wanted to go there, any- 
way ?" 

"I don't know," said Maria. 

"I don't know," said Wollaston, "but it seems to me 
the best thing to do would be to go directly to a police- 
office and have the chief of police notified, and set them 
at work; but then I suppose your father has done that 

Maria turned upon him with indignation. "Go to a 
police-station to find my little sister!" said she. "What 
would I go there for?" 

"Yes, what do you suppose that kid has did?" asked 

"What would I go there for?" demanded Maria, flash- 
ing the light of her excited, strained little face upon the 

Maria no longer looked pretty. She no longer looked 



even young. Lines of age were evident around her 
mouth, her forehead was wrinkled. The boy fairly 
started at the sight of her. She seemed like a stranger 
to him. Her innermost character, which he had here- 
tofore only guessed at by superficial signs, was written 
plainly on her face. The boy felt himself immeasurably 
small and young, manly and bold of his age as he really 
was. When a young girl stretches to the full height 
of her instincts, she dwarfs any boy of her own age. 
Maria's feeling for her little sister was fairly maternal. 
She was in spirit a mother searching for her lost young, 
rather than a girl searching for her little sister. Her 
whole soul expanded. She fairly looked larger, as well 
as older. When they got off the train at Jersey City, 
she led the little procession straight for the Twenty -third 
Street ferry. She marched ahead like a woman of twice 
her years. 

"You had better hold up your dress, M , ria, ,, said 
Gladys, coming up with her, and looking at her with 
wonder. "My, how you do race!" 

Maria reached round one hand and caught a fold of 
her skirt. Her new dress was in fact rather long for 
her. Ida had remarked that morning that she would 
have Miss Keeler shorten it on Saturday. Ida had no 
wish to have a grown-up step-daughter quite yet, whom 
people might take for her own. 

The three reached the ferry-boat just as she was about 
to leave her slip. They sat down in a row midway of 
the upper deck. The heat inside was intense. Gladys 
loosened her shabby little sacque. Maria sat impassible. 

"Ain't you most baked in here?" asked Gladys. 

"No," replied Maria. 

Both Gladys and Wollaston looked cowed. They kept 
glancing at each other and at Maria. Maria sat next 
Gladys, Wollaston on Gladys's other side. Gladys 
nudged Wollaston, and whispered to him. 



" We've jest got to stick close to her," she whispered, 
in an alarmed cadence. The boy nodded. 

Then they both glanced again at Maria, who seemed 
quite oblivious of their attention. When they reached 
the other side, Wollaston, with an effort, asserted him- 

"We had better take a cross-town car to the Sixth 
Avenue Elevated," he said, pressing close to Maria's side 
and seizing her arm again. 

Maria shook her head. "No," she said. "Where 
Mrs. Edison lives is not so near the Elevated. It will 
be better to take a cross-town car and transfer at Seventh 

"All right," said Wollaston. He led the way in the 
run down the stairs, and aided his companions onto the 
cross-town car. He paid their fares, and got the trans- 
fers, and stopped the other car. He was beginning to 
feel himself again, at least temporarily. 

"Well, I think the police-station is the best place to 
look, but have your own way. It won't take long to see 
if she is there now," said Wollaston. He was hanging 
on a strap in front of Maria. The car was crowded with 
people going to up-town theatres. Some of the ladies, 
in showy evening wraps, giving glimpses of delicate^ 
waists, looked curiously at the three. There was some- 
thing extraordinary about their appearance calculated 
to attract attention, although it was difficult to say just 
why. After they had left the car, a lady with a white 
lace blouse showing between the folds of a red cloak, 
said to her escort: "I wonder who they were?" 

" I don't know," said the man, who had been watching 
them. "I thought there was something unusual." 

"I thought so, too. That well-dressed young woman, 
and that handsome boy, and that shabby little girl." 
By the "young woman " she meant Maria. 

"Yes, a queer combination," said the man. 
1 60 


"It wasn't altogether that, but they looked so desper- 
ately in earnest." 

Meantime, while the lights of the car disappeared up 
the avenue, Maria, Wollaston, and Gladys Mann searched 
for the house in which had lived Ida Edgham's cousin. 

At last they found it, mounted the steps, and rang the 
bell. It was an apartment -house. After a little the 
door opened of itself. 

"My!" said Gladys, but she followed Wollaston and 
Maria inside. 

Wollaston began searching the names above the rows 
of bells on the wall of the vestibule. 

"What did you say the name was?" he asked of 

"Edison. Mrs. George B. Edison." 
"There is no such name here." 
"There must be." 
"There isn't." 

"Let me see," said Maria. She searched the names. 
"Well, I don't care," said she. It was on the third 
floor, and I am going up and ask, anyway." 

"Now, Maria, do you think — " began Wollaston. 

But Maria began climbing the stairs. There was no 

"My!" said Gladys, but she followed Maria. 

Wollaston pushed by them both. "See here, you 
don't know what you are getting into," said he, sternly. 
"You let me go first." 

When they reached the third floor, Maria pointed to a 
door. "That is the door," she whispered, breathlessly. 

Wollaston knocked. Immediately the door was flung 
open by a very pretty young woman in a rose-colored 
evening gown. Her white shoulders gleamed through 
the transparent chiffon, and a comb set with rhinestones 
sparkled in the fluff of her blond hair. When she saw 
the three she gave a shrill scream, and immediately a 



very small man, much smaller than she, but with a fierce 
cock of a black pointed beard, and a tremendous wiri- 
ness of gesture, appeared. 

"Oh, Tom! ,, gasped the young woman. "Oh!" 

"What on earth is the matter, Stella ?" asked the man. 
Then he looked fiercely at the three. "Who are these 
people?" he asked. 

11 1 don't know. I opened the door. I thought it was 
Adeline and Raymond, and then I saw these strange 
people. I don't know how they got in." 

"We came in the door," said Gladys, with some 
asperity, "and we are lookin' for M'ria's little sister. 
Be you her ma-in-law's cousin?" 

"I don't know who these people are," the young 
woman said, faintly, to the man. "I think they must 
be burglars." 

"Burglars, nothin'!" said Gladys, who had suddenly 
assumed the leadership of the party. Opposition and 
suspicion stimulated her. She loved a fight. "Be you 
her ma-in-law's cousin, and have you got her little sister ?" 

Wollaston looked inquiringly at Maria, who was very 

"It isn't Her cousin," she gasped. "I don't know 
who she is. I never saw her." 

Then Wollaston spoke, hat in hand, and speaking up 
like a man. "Pardon us, sir," he said, "we did not 
intend to intrude, but — " 

"Get out of this," said the man, with a sudden dart 
towards the door. 

His wife screamed again, and put her hand over a 
little diamond brooch at her throat. " I just know they 
are sneak-thieves," she gasped. "Do send them away, 

Wollaston tried to speak again. "We merely wished 
to ascertain," said he, "if a lady by the name of Mrs. 
George A. — " 



"B." interrupted Gladys. 

"B. Edison lived here. This young lady's little 
sister is lost, and Mrs. Edison is a relative, and we 
thought — " 

The man made another dart. " Don't care what you 
thought,' ' he shouted. "Keep your thoughts to vour- 
self! Get out of herer 

"Do you know where Mrs. George B. Edison lives 
now?" asked Wollaston, courteously, but his black eyes 
flashed at the man. 

"No, I don't." 

" No, we don't," said the young woman in pink. "Do 
make them go, Tom." 

"We are perfectly willing to go," said Wollaston. 
"We have no desire to remain any longer where people 
are not willing to answer civil questions." 

Maria all this time had said nothing. She was per- 
fectly overcome with the conviction that Ida's cousin 
was not there, and consequently not Evelyn. Moreover, 
she was frightened at the little man's fierce manner. 
She clung to Wollaston's arm as they retreated, but 
Gladys turned around and deliberately stuck her tongue 
out at the man and the young woman in rose. The 
man slammed the door. 

The three met on the stoop of the house two people 
in gay attire. 

"Go up and see your friends that don't know how to 
treat folks decent," said Gladys. The woman looked 
wonderingly at her from under the shade of a picture 
hat. Her escort opened the door. "Ten chances to 
one they had the kid hid somewhere," said Gladys, so 
loudly that both turned arid looked at her. 

"Hush up," said Wollaston. 

"Well, what be you goin' to do now?" asked Gladys. 
"I am going to a drug-store, and see if I can find out 
where Maria's relatives have moved to," replied Wollas- 



ton. He walked quite alertly now. Maria's discom- 
fiture had reassured him. 

They walked along a few blocks until they saw the 
lights of a drug-store on the corner. Then Wollaston 
led them in and marched up to the directory chained 
to the counter. 

"What's that ?" Gladys asked. "A Bible ?" 

"No, it's a directory," Maria replied, in a dull voice. 

"What do they keep it chained for? Books don't 
run away." 

"I suppose they are afraid folks will steal it." 

"My!" said Gladys, eying the big volume. "I don't 
see what on earth they'd do with it when they got it 
stole," she remarked, in a low, reflective voice. 

Maria leaned against the counter and waited. 

Finally, Wollaston turned to her with an apologetic 
air. "I can't find any George B. here," he said. "You 
are sure it was B ?" 

"Yes," replied Maria. 

"Well, there's no use," said Wollaston. "There is no 
George B. Edison in this book, anyhow." 

He came forward, and stood looking at Maria. Maria 
gazed absently at the crowds passing on the street. 
Gladys watched them both. 

"Well," said Gladys, presently, "you ain't goin' to 
stand here all night, be you ? What be you goin' to do 
next? Go to the police-station?" 

"I don't see that there is any use," replied Wollaston. 
"Maria's father must have been there by this time. 
This is a wild-goose chase anyhow." Wollaston's tone 
was quite vicious. He scowled superciliously at the 
salesman who stepped forward and asked if he wanted 
anything. "No, we don't, thank you," he said. 

"What be you goin' to do ?" asked Gladys, again. She 
looked at the soda-fountain. 

"I don't see anything to do but to go home," said 



Wollaston. " There is no sense in our chasing around 
New York any longer, that I can see." 

" You can't go home to-night, anyhow, " Gladys said, 
quite calmly. " They've took off that last train, and 
there ain't more'n ten minutes to git down to the station." 

Wollaston turned pale, and looked at her with horror. 
1 1 What makes you think they've taken off that last 
train?" he demanded. 

" Ain't my pa brakeman when he's sober, and he's 
been real sober for quite a spell now." 

Wollaston seized Maria by the arm. "Come, quick!" 
he said, and leaving the drug-store he broke into a run 
for the Elevated, with Gladys following. 

" There ain't no use in your running" said she. "You 
know yourself you can't git down to Cortlandt Street, 
and walk to the ferry in ten minutes. I never went but 
oncet, but I know it can't be did." 

Wollaston slackened his pace. "That is so," he said. 
Then he looked at Maria in a kind of angry despair. He 
felt, in spite of his romantic predilection for her, that he 
wished she were a boy, so he could say something forci- 
ble. He realized his utter helplessness with these two 
girls in a city where he knew no one, and he again 
thought of the three dollars in his pocket-book. He did 
not suppose that Maria had more than fifty cents in 
hers. Then, too, he was worldly wise enough to realize 
the difficulty of the situation, the possible danger even. 
It was ten o'clock at night, and here he was with two 
young girls to look out for. 

Then Gladys, who had also worldly wisdom, although 
of a crude and vulgar sort, spoke. "Folks are goin' to 
talk like the old Harry if we stay in here all night," said 
she, "and besides, there's no knowin' what is a safe 
place to go into." 

"That is so," said Wollaston, gloomily, "and I— have 
not much money with me." 



"I've got money enough, " Maria said, suddenly. 
" There are ten dollars in my pocket-book I gave you to 

"My!" said Gladys. 

Wollaston brightened for a moment, then his face 
clouded again. "Well, I don't know as that makes it 
much better, " said he. "I don't quite see how to man- 
age. They are so particular in hotels now, that I don't 
know as I can get you into a decent one. As for myself, 
I don't care. I can look out for myself, but I don't 
know what to do with you, Maria." 

Gladys made a little run and stepped in front of them. 
"There ain't but one thing you can do, so Maria won't 
git talked about all the rest of her life, and I kin tell you 
what it is," said she. 

"What is it?" asked Wollaston, in a burst of anger. 
"I call it a pretty pickle we are in, for my part. Ten 
chances to one, Mr. Edgham has got the baby back 
home safe and sound by this time, anyway, and here 
we are, here is Maria!" 

"There ain't but one thing you can do," said Gladys. 
Her tone was forcible. She was full of the vulgar 
shrewdness of a degenerate race, for the old acumen of 
that race had sharpened her wits. 

"What! in Heaven's name?" cried Wollaston. 

The three had been slowly walking along, and had 
stopped near a church, which was lighted. As they 
were talking the lights went out. A thin stream of 
people ceased issuing from the open doors. A man in 
a clerical dress approached them, walking quite rapidly. 
He was evidently bound, from the trend of his steps, to 
a near-by house, which was his residence. 

"Git married," said Gladys, abruptly. Then, before 
the others realized what she was doing, she darted in 
front of the approaching clergyman. "They want to 
git married," said she. 



The clergyman stopped and stared at her, then at the 
couple beyond, who were quite speechless with astonish- 
ment. He was inconceivably young for his profession. 
He was small, and had a round, rollicking face, which 
he was constantly endeavoring to draw down into lines 
of asceticism. 

4 4 Who wants to get married ?" asked the clergyman. 

" Them two," replied Gladys, succinctly. She pointed 
magisterially at Wollaston and Maria. 

Wollaston was tall and manly looking for his age, 
Maria's dress touched the ground. The clergyman had 
not, at the moment, a doubt as to their suitable age. 
He was not a brilliant young man, naturally. He had 
been pushed through college and into his profession by 
wealthy relatives, and, moreover, with his stupidity, he 
had a certain spirit of recklessness and sense of humor 
which gave life a spice for him. 

"Want to get married, eh?" he said. 

Then Wollaston spoke. "No, we do not want to get 
married," he said, positively. Then he said to Gladys, 
"I wish you would mind your own business." 

But he had to cope with the revival of a wonderful 
feminine wit of a fine old race in Gladys. "I should 
think you would be plum ashamed of yourself," she said, 
severely, "after you have got that poor girl in here ; and 
if she stays and you ain't married, she'll git talked 

The clergyman approached Wollaston and Maria. 
Maria had begun to cry. She was trembling from head 
to foot with fear and confusion. Wollaston looked sulky 
and angry. 

"Is that true — did you induce this girl to come to 
New York to be married?" he inquired, and his own 
boyish voice took on severe tones. He was very strong 
in moral reform. 

"No, I did not," replied Wollaston. 
ia 167 


"He did," said Gladys. "She'll get talked about if 
she ain't, too, and the last train has went, and we've 
got to stay in New York all night." 

"Where do you come from?" inquired the young 
clergyman, and his tone was more severe still. 

"From Edgham, New Jersey," replied Gladys. 

"Who are you?" inquired the clergyman. 

"I ain't no account," replied Gladys. "All our folks 
gits talked about, but she's different." 

"I suppose you are her maid," said the clergyman, 
noting with quick eye the difference in the costumes of 
the two girls. 

"Call it anything you wanter," said Gladys, indiffer- 
ently. " I ain't goin' to have her talked about, nohow." 

"Come, Maria," said Wollaston, but Maria did not 
respond even to his strong, nervous pull on her arm. 
She sobbed convulsively. 

"No, that girl does not go one step, young man," said 
the clergyman. He advanced closely, and laid a hand 
on Maria's other arm. Although small in body and 
mind, he evidently had muscle. "Come right in the 
house," said he, and Maria felt his hand on her arm like 
steel. She yielded, and began following him, Wollaston 
in vain trying to hold her back. 

Gladys went behind Wollaston and pushed vigorously. 
" You git right in there, the way he says, Wollaston Lee," 
said she. "You had ought to be ashamed of yourself." 

Before the boy well knew what he was doing he found 
himself in a small reception-room lined with soberly 
bound books. All that was clear in his mind was that 
he could not hinder Maria from entering, and that she 
must not go into the house alone with Gladys and this 
strange man. 

A man had been standing in the doorway of the house, 
waiting the entrance of the clergyman. He was evi- 
dently a servant, and his master beckoned him. 



'the first thing he heard distinctly was the clergyman's 
pronouncing him and maria man and wife " 


"Call Mrs. Jerrolds, Williams," he said. 

"What is your name?" he asked Maria, who was sob- 
bing more wildly than ever. 

"Her name is Maria Edgham," replied Gladys, "and 
his is Wollaston Lee. They both live in Edgham." 

"How old are you?" the clergyman asked of Wollas- 
ton; but Gladys cut in again. 

"He's nineteen, and she's goin' on," she replied, 

"We are neither of us," began Wollaston, whose mind 
was*, in a whirl of anger of confusion. 

But the clergyman interrupted him. " 1 am ashamed 
of you, young man," he said, "luring an innocent young 
girl to New York and then trying to lie out of your 

"I am not," began Wollaston again; but then the 
man who had stood in the door entered with a portly 
woman in a black silk tea-gown. She looked as if she 
had been dozing, or else was naturally slow-witted. 
Her eyes, under heavy lids, were dull; her mouth had a 
sleepy, although good-natured pout, like a child's, be- 
tween her fat cheeks. 

"I am sorry to trouble you, Mrs. Jerrolds," said the 
clergyman, "but I need you and Williams for witnesses." 
Then he proceeded. 

Neither Wollaston nor Maria were ever very clear in 
their minds how it was done. Both had thought mar- 
riage was a more complicated proceeding. Neither was 
entirely sure of having said anything. Indeed, Wollas- 
ton was afterwards quite positive that Gladys Mann 
answered nearly all the clergyman's questions; but at 
all events, the first thing he heard distinctly was the 
clergyman's pronouncing him and Maria man and wife. 
Then the clergyman, who was zealous to the point of 
fanaticism, and who honestly considered himself to have 
done an exceedingly commendable thing, invited them 



to have some wedding-cake, which he kept ready for 
such emergencies, and some coffee, but Wollaston re- 
plied with a growl of indignation and despair. This 
time Maria followed his almost brutally spoken com- 
mand to follow him, and the three went out of the 

"See that you treat your wife properly, young man," 
the clergyman called out after him, in a voice half jocu- 
lar, half condemnatory, "or there will be trouble." 

Wollaston growled an oath, the first which he had 
ever uttered, under his breath, and strode on. He+iad 
released his hold on Maria's arm. Ahead of them, a 
block distant, was an Elevated station, and Maria, who 
seemed to suddenly recover her faculties, broke into a 
run for it. 

" Where be you goin' ? M called out Gladys. 

"I am going down to the Jersey City station, quick," 
replied Maria, in a desperate voice. 

" I thought you'd go to a hotel. There ain't no harm, 
now you're married, you know," said Gladys, "and then 
we could have some supper. I'm awful hungry. I ain't 
eat a thing sence noon." 

"I am going right down to the station," repeated 

"The last train has went. What's the use?" 
"I don't care. I'm going down there." 
"What be you goin' to do when you git there?" 
"I am going to sit there, and wait till morning." 
"My!" said Gladys. 

However, she went on up the Elevated stairs with 
Maria and Wollaston. Wollaston threw down the fares 
and got the tickets, and strode on ahead. His mouth 
was set. He was very pale. He probably realized to 
a greater extent than any of them what had taken place. 
It was inconceivable to him that it had taken place, 
that he himself had been such a fool. He felt like one 



who has met with some utterly unexplainable and unac- 
countable accident. He felt as he had done once when, 
younger, he had stuck his own knife, with which he was 
whittling, into his eye, to the possible loss of it. It 
seemed to him as if something had taken place without 
his volition. He was like a puppet in a show. He 
looked at Maria, and realized that he hated her. He 
wondered how he could ever have thought her pretty. 
He looked at Gladys Mann, and felt murderous. He 
had a high temper. As the train approached, he whis- 
pered in her ear, 

"Damn you, Gladys Mann, it's a pretty pickle you 
have got us into." 

Gladys was used to being sworn at. She was not in 
the least intimidated. 

"Do you s'pose I was goin' to have M'ria talked 
about?" she said. "You can cuss all you want to." 

They got into the train. Wollaston sat by himself, 
Gladys and Maria together. Maria was no longer weep- 
ing, but she looked terrified beyond measure, and desper- 
ate. A horrible imagination of evil was over her. She 
never glanced at Wollaston. She thought that she 
wished there would be an accident on the train and he 
might be killed. She hated him more than he hated 

They were just in time for a boat at Cortlandt Street. 
When they reached the Jersey City side Wollaston went 
straight to the information bureau, and then returned 
to Gladys and Maria, seated on a bench in the waiting- 

"Well, there is a, train," he said, curtly. 

" 'Ain't it been took off?" asked Gladys. 

"No, but we've got to wait an hour and a half." 
Then he bent down and whispered in Gladys's ear, "I 
wish to God you'd been dead before you got us into this, 
Gladys Mann!" 




"My father said it had been took off," said Gladys. 
"You sure there is one?" 
"Of course I'm sure!" 
"My!" said Gladys. 

Wollaston went to a distant seat and sat by himself. 
The two girls waited miserably. Gladys had suffered a 
relapse. Her degeneracy of wit had again overwhelmed 
her. She looked at Maria from time to time, then she 
glanced around at Wollaston, and her expression was 
almost idiotic. The people who were on the seat 
with them moved away. Maria turned suddenly to 

"Gladys Mann," said she, "if you ever tell of this — " 
"Then you ain't goin' to — " said Gladys. 
"Going to what?" 
"Live with him?" 

"Live with him! I hate him enough to wish he was 
dead. I'll never live with him; and if you tell, Gladys 
Mann, I'll tell you what I'll do." 

"What?" asked Gladys, in a horrified whisper. 

"I'll go and drown myself in Fisher's Pond, that's 
what IH do." 

"I never will tell, honest, M'ria," said Gladys. 

"You'd better not." 

"Hope to die, if I do." 

"You will die if you do," said Maria, "for I'll leave 
a note saying you pushed me into the pond, and it will 
be true, too. Oh, Gladys Mann! it's awful what you've 

"I didn't mean no harm," said Gladys. 
"And there's a train, too." 
"Father said there wasn't." 
"Your father!" 

"I know it. There ain't never tellin' when father 
lies," said Gladys. "I guess father don't know what 
lies is, most of the time. I s'pose he's always had a 



little, if he 'ain't had a good deal. But I'll never tell, 
Maria, not as long as I live." 

"If you do, I'll drown myself, " said Maria. 

Then the two sat quietly until the train was called 
out, when they went through the gate, Maria showing 
her tickets for herself and Gladys. Wollaston had pur- 
chased his own and returned Maria's. He kept behind 
the two girls as if he did not belong to their party at all. 
On the train he rode in the smoking-car. 

The car was quite full at first, but the passengers got 
off at the way -stations. When they drew near Edgham 
there were only a few left. Wollaston had not paid the 
slightest attention to the passengers. He could not 
have told what sort of a man occupied the seat with 
him, nor even when he got off. He was vaguely con- 
scious of the reeking smoke of the car, but that was all. 
When the conductor came through he handed out his 
ticket mechanically, without looking at him. He stared 
out of the window at the swift-passing, shadowy trees, 
at the green-and-red signal-lights, and the bright glare 
from the lights of the stations through which they passed. 
Once they passed by a large factory on fire, surrounded 
by a shouting mob of men, and engines. Even that did 
not arrest his attention, although it caused quite a com- 
motion in the car. He sat huddled up in a heap, staring 
out with blank eyes, all his consciousness fixed upon his 
own affairs. He felt as if he had made an awful leap 
from boyhood to manhood in a minute. He was full of 
indignation, of horror, of shame. He was conscious of 
wishing that there were no girls in the world. After 
they had passed the last station before reaching Edgham 
he looked wearily away from the window, and recognized, 
stupidly, Maria's father in a seat in the forward part of 
the car. Harry was sitting as dejectedly hunched upon 
himself as was the boy. Wollaston recognized the fact 
that he could not have found little Evelyn, and realized 



wickedly and furiously that he did not care, that a much 
more dreadful complication had come into his own life. 
He turned again to the window. 

Maria, in the car behind the smoker, sat beside Gladys, 
and looked out of the window very much as Wollaston 
was doing. She also was conscious of an exceeding hor- 
ror and terror, and a vague shame. It was, to Maria, as 
if she had fallen through the fairy cobweb of romance 
and struck upon the hard ground of reality with such 
force that her very soul was bleeding. Wollaston, in the 
smoker, wished no more devoutly that there were no 
girls in the world, than Maria wished there were no 
boys. Her emotions had been, as it were, thrust back 
down her own throat, and she was choked and sickened 
with them. She would not look at nor speak to Gladys. 
Once, when Gladys addressed a remark to her, Maria 
thrust out an indignant shoulder towards her. 

"You needn't act so awful mad," whispered Gladys. 
"I ain't goin' to tell, and I was doin' it on your ac- 
count. My mother will give it to me when I git 

"What are you going to tell her?" asked Maria, with 
sudden interest. 

"I'm goin' to tell her IVe been out walkin' with Ben 
Jadkins. She's told me not to, and she'll lick me for 
all she's wuth," said Gladys, angrily. "But I don't 
care. It's lucky father 'ain't been through this train. 
It's real lucky to have your father git drunk sometimes. 
I'll git licked, but I don't care." 

Maria, sitting there, paid no more attention. The 
shock of her own plight had almost driven from her 
mind the thought of Evelyn, but when a woman got on 
the train leading a child about her age, the old pain 
concerning her came back. She began to weep again 

"I don't see what you are cryin' for," said Gladys, 


in an accusing voice. "You might have been an old 

"I don't believe she is found, " Maria moaned, in a 
low voice. 

"Oh, the kid! You bet your life she'll turn up. Your 
pa '11 find her all right. I didn't know as you were cryin' 
about that." 

When they reached Edgham, Maria and Gladys got 
off the train, Wollaston Lee also got off, and Harry Edg- 
ham, and from a rear car a stout woman, yanking, rather 
than leading, by the hand, a little girl with a fluff of 
yellow hair. The child was staggering with sleep. The 
stout woman carried on her other arm a large wax-doll 
whose face smiled inanely over her shoulder. 

Suddenly there was a rush and cry, and Maria had 
the little girl in her arms. She was kneeling be- 
side her on the dusty platform, regardless of her new 

"Sister! Sister!" screamed the child. 

"Sister's own little darling!" said Maria, then she 
began to sob wildly. 

"It's her little sister. Where did you get her?" 
Gladys asked, severely, of the stout woman, who stood 
holding the large doll and glowering, while Harry Edg- 
ham came hurrying up. Then there was another scream 
from the baby, and she was in her father's arms. There 
were few at the station at that hour, but a small crowd 
gathered around. On the outskirts was Wollaston Lee, 
looking on with his sulky, desperate face. 

The stout woman grasped Harry vehemently by the 
arm. "Look at here," said she. "I want to know, an* 
I ain't got no time to fool around, for I want to take the 
next train back. Is that your young one? Speak up 

Harry, hugging the child to his breast, looked at the 
stout woman. 



"Yes," he replied, "she is mine, and I have been 
looking for her all day. Where — Did you?" 

"No, I didn't," said the stout woman, emphatically. 
"She did. I don't never meddle with other folks' chil- 
dren. I 'ain't never been married, and I 'ain't never 
wanted to be. And I 'ain't never cared nothin' about 
children; always thought they was more bother than 
they were worth. And when I changed cars here this 
mornin', on my way from Lawsons, where I've been to 
visit my married sister, this young one tagged me onto 
the train, and nothin' I could say made anybody believe 
she wa'n't mine. I told 'em I wa'n't married, but it 
didn't make no difference. I call it insultin'. There I 
was goin' up to Tarrytown to-day to see my aunt 'Liza. 
She's real feeble, and they sent for me, and there I was 
with this young one. I had a cousin in New York, and 
I took her to her house, and she didn't know any better 
what to do than I did. She was always dreadful help- 
less. We waited till her husband got home. He runs 
a tug down the harbor, and he said take her to the 
police-station, and mebbe I'd find out somebody had 
been tryin' to find her. So my cousin's husband and 
me went to the station, and he was so tuckered out and 
mad at the whole performance that I could hear him 
growlin' cuss words under his breath the whole way. 
We took her and this great doll down to the station, 
and we found out there who she was most likely, and 
who she belonged to. And my cousin's husband said 
I'd got to take her out here. He looked it up and found 
out I could git back to New York to-night. He said he 
wouldn't come nohow." Suddenly a light flashed on 
the woman. "Say," she said, "you don't mean to say 
you've been on the train yourself all the way out from 
New York?" 

"Yes, I came out on the train," admitted Harry, 
meekly. "I am sorry — " 



"Well, you'd better be," said the woman. "Here 
I've traipsed out here for nothin , this time of night. I 
call you all a set of numskulls. I don't call the young 
one very bright, either. Couldn't tell where she lived, 
nor what her father's name was. Jest said it was papa, 
and her name was peshious, or some such tomfoolery. 
I advise you to tag her if she is in the habit of runnin' 
away. Here I ought to have been up in Tarry town, 
and I've been foolin' round in New York all day with 
your young one and this big doll." With that the stout 
woman thrust the doll at Maria. "Here, take this 
thing," said she "I've had enough of it! There ain't 
any sense in lettin' a child of her size lug around a doll 
as big as that, anyhow. When does my train come? 
Hev I got to cross to the other side. My cousin's hus- 
band said it would be about twenty minutes I'd have 
to wait." 

"I'll take you round to the other side, and I cannot 
be grateful enough for your care," began Harry, but 
the woman stopped him again. 

"I suppose you'll be willin' to pay my fare back to 
New York; that's all I want," said she. "I don't want 
no thanks. I 'ain't no use for children, but I ain't a 

"I'll be glad to give you a great deal more than your 
fare to New York," Harry said, in a broken voice. 
Evelyn was already fast asleep on his shoulder. He 
led the way down the stairs towards the other track. 

"I don't want nothin' else, except five cents for my 
car-fare. I can get a transfer, and it won't be more'n 
that," said the woman, following. "I've got enough 
to git along with, and I ain't a heathen." 

Harry, with Evelyn asleep in his arms, and Maria and 
Gladys, waited with the stout woman until the train 
came. The station was closed, and the woman sat down 
on a bench outside and immediately fell asleep herself. 



When the train came, Harry thrust a bank-note into 
the woman's hand, having roused her with considerable 
difficulty, and she stumbled on to the train over her 
skirts just as she had done in the morning. 

Harry knew the conductor. "Look out for that 
woman," he called out to him. "She found my little 
girl that was lost." 

The conductor nodded affably as the train rolled 

Wollaston Lee had gone home when the others de- 
scended the stairs and crossed to the other track. When 
Harry, with Evelyn in his arms, her limp little legs 
dangling, and Maria and Gladys, were on their way 
home, the question, which he in his confusion had not 
thought to put before, came. 

"W T hy, Maria, where did you come from?" he asked. 

"From New York," replied Maria, meekly. 

"Her and me went up to her ma-in-law's cousin's, on 
Forty-ninth Street, to find the kid," Gladys cut in, 
glibly, "but the cousin had moved." 

Harry stared at them. "Why, how happened you to 
do such a thing?" he asked. 

"I couldn't wait home and not do anything," Maria 
sobbed, nervously. 

"Her ma-in-law's cousin had moved," said Gladys. 

"How did you find your way?" 

"I had been there before," sobbed Maria. She felt 
for her father's hand, and grasped it with a meaning of 
trust and fear which he did not understand. 

"Well, you must never do such a thing again, no 
matter w T hat happens," he said, and held the poor little 
girl's hand firmly. "Thank God father's got you both 
back safe and sound." 

Gladys made an abrupt departure on a corner. 

"Good-night, M'ria!" she sung out, and was gone, a 
slim, flving figure in the gloom. 

i 7 8 


"Are you afraid to go alone ?" Harry called after her, 
in some uncertainty. 

"Land, no!" came cheerily back. 

"How happened she to be with you?" asked Harry. 

" She was down at the station when I came home from 
Wardway," replied Maria, faintly. Her strength was 
almost gone. She could hardly stagger up the steps of 
the house with her father, he bearing his recovered child, 
she bearing her secret. 


Ida was still to be seen rocking when Harry, with 
Evelyn and Maria, came in sight of the house. The 
visiting ladies had gone. Josephine, with her face 
swollen and tear-stained, was standing watching at a 
window in the dark dining-room. When she saw the 
three approaching she screamed: 

" Oh, Mis' Edgham, they've found her ! They're comin' ! 
They've got her!" and rushed to open the door. 

Ida rose, and came gracefully to meet them with a 
sinuous movement and a long sweep of her rose-colored 
draperies. Her radiant smile lit up her face again. 
She looked entirely herself when Harry greeted her. 

" Well, Ida, our darling is found," he said, in a broken 

Ida reached out her arms, from which hung graceful 
pendants of lace and ribbons, but the sleepy child clung 
to her father and whimpered crossly. 

" She is all tired out, poor little darling! Papa's poor 
little darling!" said Harry, carrying her into the parlor. 

"Josephine, tell Annie to heat some milk at once," 
Ida said, sharply. 

Annie, whose anxious face had been visible peeping 
through the dark entrance of the dining-room, hastened 
into the kitchen. 

"Josephine, go right up-stairs and get Miss Evelyn's 
bed ready," ordered Ida. Then she followed Harry into 
the parlor and began questioning him, standing over 
him, and now and then touching the yellow head of the 
child, who always shrank crossly at her touch. 



Harry told his story. "I had the whole police force 
of New York on the outlook, although I did not really 
think myself she was in the city, and there papa's pre- 
cious darling was all the time right on the train with him 
and he never knew it. And here was poor little Maria/ ' 
added Harry, looking at Maria, who had sunk into a 
corner of a divan — "here was poor little Maria, Ida, 
and she had gone hunting her little sister on her own 
account. She thought she might be at your cousin 
Alice's. If I had known that both my babies were 
wandering around New York I should have been crazy. 
When I got off the train, there was Maria and that little 
Mann girl. She was down at the station when she got 
home from Wardway, Maria says, and those two chil- 
dren went right off to New York." 

"Did they?" said Ida, in a listless voice. She had 
resumed her seat in her rocking-chair. 

"Edwin Shaw said he thought he saw Evelyn getting 
on the New York train this morning," said Maria, 

"She is all used up," Harry said. "You had better 
drink some hot milk yourself, Maria. Only think of 
that child and that Mann girl going off to New York 
on their own accounts, Ida!" 

"Yes," said Ida. 

" Wollaston Lee went, too," Maria said, suddenly. A 
quick impulse for concealment in that best of hiding- 
places, utter frankness and openness, came over her. 
" He got off the train here. You know he began school, 
too, at Wardway this morning, and he and Gladys both 

"Well, I'm thankful you had him along," said Harry. 
"The Lord only knows what you two girls would have 
done alone in a city like New York. You must never 
do such a thing again, whatever happens, Maria. You 
might as well run right into a den of wild beasts. Only 



think of that child going to New York, and coming out 
on the last train, with that Mann girl; and Wollaston is 
only a boy, though he's bright and smart. And your 
cousin has moved, Ida." 

"I thought she had," said Ida. 

" And to think of what those children might have got 
into," said Harry, "in a city like New York, which is 
broken out all over with plague spots instead of having 
them in one place! Only think of it, Ida!" 

Harry's voice was almost sobbing. It seemed as if he 
fairly appealed to his wife for sympathy, with his con- 
sciousness of the dangers through which his child had 
passed. But Ida only said, "Yes." 

"And the baby might have fallen into the worst 
hands," said Harry. "But, thank God, a good woman, 
although she was coarse enough, got hold of her." 

" Yes, we can't be thankful enough," Ida said, smooth- 
ly, and then Josephine came in with a tray and a silver 
cup of hot milk for Evelyn. 

"Is that all the milk Annie heated?" asked Harry. 

' Yes, sir." 

"Well, tell Annie to go to the sideboard and get that 
bottle of port -wine and pour out a glass for Miss Maria ; 
and, Josephine, you had better bring her something to 
eat with it. You haven't had any supper, have you, 

Maria shook her head. "I don't want any, thank 
you, papa," said she. 

"Is there any cold meat, Josephine, do you know?" 

Josephine said there was some cold roast beef. 

"Well, bring Miss Maria a plate, with a slice of bread- 
and-butter, and some beef." 

"Have you had any supper yourself, dear?" Ida 

"I declare I don't know, dear," replied Harry, who 
looked unutterably worn and tired. "No, I think not. 



I don't know when I could have got it. No, I know I 
have not." 

" Josephine," said Ida, "tell Annie to broil a piece 
of beefsteak for Mr. Edgham, and make a cup of tea." 

"Thank you, dear," poor Harry said, gratefully. 
Then he said to Maria, "Will you wait and have some 
hot beefsteak and tea with papa, darling?" 

Maria shook her head. 

"I think she had better eat the cold beef and bread, 
and drink the wine, and go at once to bed, if she is to 
start on that early train to-morrow," Ida said. 

"Maybe you are right, dear," Harry said. "Hurry 
with the roast beef and bread and wine for Miss Maria, 
Josephine, and Annie can see to my supper afterwards." 

All this time Harry was coaxing the baby to imbibe 
spoonfuls of the hot milk. It was hard work, for Evelyn 
was not very hungry. She had been given a good deal 
of cake and pie from a bakery all day. 

However, at last she was roused sufficiently to finish 
her little meal, and Maria drank her glass of wine and 
ate a little of the bread and meat, although it seemed 
to her that it would choke her. She was conscious of her 
father's loving, anxious eyes upon her as she ate, and 
she made every effort. 

Little Evelyn had recently had her own little room 
fitted up. It was next to Maria's; indeed, there was a 
connecting door between the two rooms. Evelyn's room 
was a marvel. It was tiny, but complete. Ida had the 
walls hung with paper with a satin gloss, on which were 
strewn garlands of rose-buds. There was a white mat- 
ting and a white fur rug. The small furniture was white, 
with rose-bud decorations. There was a canopy of rose 
silk over the tiny bed, and a silk counterpane of a rose- 
bud pattern. 

After Evelyn had finished her hot milk, her father 
carried her up-stairs into this little nest, and Josephine 

13 l8 3 


undressed her and put her to bed. The child's head 
drooped as helplessly as a baby's all the time, she was 
so overcome with sleep. When she was in bed, Ida 
came in and kissed her. She was so fast asleep that 
she did not know. She and Harry stood for a moment 
contemplating the little thing, with her yellow hair 
spread over the white pillow and her round rose of a 
face sunken therein. Harry put his arm around his 
wife's waist. 

"We ought to be very thankful, dear," he said, and 
he almost sobbed. 

"Yes," said Ida. To do her justice, she regarded the 
little rosy-and-white thing sunk in slumber with a cer- 
tain tenderness. She was even thankful. She had been 
exceedingly disturbed the whole day. She was very 
glad to have this happy termination, and to be able to 
go to rest in peace. She bent again over the child, and 
touched her lips lightly to the little face, and when she 
looked up her own was softened. "Yes," she whispered, 
with more of womanly feeling than Harry had ever seen 
in her — "yes, you are right, we have a great deal to be 
thankful for." 

Maria, in the next room, heard quite distinctly what 
Ida said. It would once have aroused in her a con- 
temptuous sense of her step-mother's hypocrisy, but now 
she felt too humbled herself to blame another, even to 
realize any fault in another. She felt as if she had 
undergone a tremendous cataclysm of spirit, which had 
cast her forever from her judgment-seat as far as others 
were concerned. Was she not deceiving as never Ida 
had deceived ? What would Ida say ? What would her 
father say if he knew that she was — ? She could not 
say the word even to herself. When she was in bed and 
her light out, she was overcome by a nervous stress 
which almost maddened her. Faces seemed to glower 
at her out of the blackness of the night, faces which she 



knew were somehow projected out of her own conscious- 
ness, but which were none the less terrific. She even 
heard her name shouted, and strange, isolated words, 
and fragments of sentences. She lay in a deadly fear. 
Now was the time when, if her own mother had been 
alive, she would have screamed aloud for some aid. But 
now she could call to no one. She would have spoken 
to her father. She would not have told him — she was 
gripped too fast by her sense of the need of secrecy — 
but she would have obtained the comfort and aid of his 
presence and soothing words; but there was Ida. She 
remembered how she had talked to Ida, and her father 
was with her. A dull wonder even seized her as to 
whether Ida would tell her father, and she should be 
allowed to remain at home after saying such dreadful 
things. There was no one upon whom she could call. 
All at once she thought of the maid Annie, whose room 
was directly over hers. Annie was kindly. She would 
slip up-stairs to her, and make some excuse for doing 
so — ask her if she did not smell smoke, or something. 
It seemed to her that if she did not hear another human 
voice, come in contact with something human, she 
should lose all control of herself. 

Maria, little, slender, trembling girl, with all the 
hysterical fancies of her sex crowding upon her, all the 
sufferings of her sex waiting for her in the future, and 
with no mother to soften them, slipped out of bed, stole 
across her room, and opened the door with infinite cau- 
tion. Then she went up the stairs which led to the 
third story. Both maids had rooms on the third story. 
Josephine went home at night, and Hannah, the cook, 
had gone home with her after the return of the wander- 
ers, and was to remain. She was related to Josephine's 
mother. She knocked timidly at Annie's door. She wait- 
ed, and knocked again. She was trembling from head to 
foot in a nervous chill. She got no response to her knock. 



Then she called, "Annie," very softly. She waited and 
called again. At last, in desperation, she opened the door, 
which was not locked. She entered, and the room was 
empty. Suddenly she remembered that Annie, kind- 
hearted as she was, and a good servant, had not a char- 
acter above suspicion. She remembered that she had 
heard Gladys intimate that she had a sweetheart, and was 
not altogether what she should be. She gazed around 
the empty, forlorn little room, with one side sloping with 
the slope of the roof, and an utter desolation overcame 
her, along with a horror of Annie. She felt that if Annie 
were there she would be no refuge. 

Maria turned, and slipped as silently as a shadow down 
the stairs back to her room. She looked at her bed, and 
it seemed to her that she could not lie down again in it. 
Then suddenly she thought of something else. She 
thought of little Evelyn asleep in the next room. She 
opened the connecting door softly and stole across to 
the baby's little bed. It was too small, or she would 
have crept in beside her. Maria hesitated a moment, 
then she slid her arms gently under the little, soft, warm 
body, and gathered the child up in her arms. She was 
quite heavy. At another time Maria, who had slen- 
der arms, could scarcely have carried her. Now she 
bore her with entire ease into her own room and laid 
her in her own bed. Then she got in beside her and 
folded her little sister in her arms. Directly a sense of 
safety and peace came over her when she felt the little 
snuggling thing, who had wakened just enough to mur- 
mur something unintelligible in her baby tongue, and 
cling close to her with all her little, rosy limbs, and thrust 
her head into the hollow of Maria's shoulder. Then she 
gave a deep sigh and was soundly asleep again. Maria 
lay awake a little while, enjoying that sense of peace 
and security which the presence of this little human 
thing she loved gave her. Then she fell asleep herself. 



She waked early. The thought of the early train was 
in her mind, and Maria was always one who could wake 
at the sub - recollection of a need. Evelyn was still 
asleep, curled up like a flower. Maria raised her and 
carried her back to her own room and put her in her 
bed without waking her. Then she dressed herself in 
her school costume and went down-stairs. She had 
smelled coffee while she was dressing, and knew that 
Hannah had returned. Her father was in the dining- 
room when she entered. He usually took an earlier 
train, but this morning he had felt utterly unable to 
rise. Maria noticed, with a sudden qualm of fear, how 
ill and old and worn-out he looked, but Harry himself 
spoke first with concern for her. 

''Papa's poor little girl!" he said, kissing her. "She 
looks tired out. Did you sleep, darling ?" 

"Yes, after a while. Are you sick, papa?" 

"No, dear. Why?" 

"Because you did not go on the other train." 

"No, dear, I am all right, just a little tired," replied 
Harry. Then he added, looking solicitously at Maria, 
" Are you sure you feel able to go to school to-day ? — be- 
cause you need not, you know." 

"I am all right," said Maria. 

She and her father had seated themselves at the table. 
Harry looked at his watch. 

"We shall neither of us go if we don't get our break- 
fast before long," he said. 

Then Hannah came in, with a lowering look, bringing 
the coffee-pot and the chops and rolls. 

"Where is Annie?" asked Harry. 

"I don't know," replied Hannah, with a toss of her head 
and a compression of her lips. She was a large, solid wom- 
an, with a cast in her eyes. She had never been married. 

"You don't know?" said Harry, helping Maria to a 
chop and a roll, while Hannah poured the coffee. 



"No," said Hannah again, and this time her face was 
fairly malicious. "I don't know how long I can stand 
such doin's, and that's the truth," she said. 

Hannah had come originally from New England, and 
had principles, in which she took pride, perhaps the 
more because they had never in one sense been assailed. 
Annie was a Hungarian, and considered by Hannah to 
have no principles. She was also pretty, in a rough, half- 
finished sort of fashion, and had no cast in her eyes. 
Hannah privately considered that as against her. 

Harry began sipping his coffee, which Hannah had 
set down with such impetus that she spilled a good deal 
in the saucer, and he looked uneasily at her. 

"What do you mean, Hannah?" he asked. 

"I mean that I am not used to being throwed in with 
girls who stays out all night, and nobody knows where 
they be, and that's the truth," said Hannah, with 

"Do you mean to say that Annie — " 

"Yes, I do. She wa'n't in, and they do say she's 
married, and — " 

"Hush, Hannah, we'll talk about this another time," 
Harry said, with a glance at Maria. 

Just then a step was heard in the kitchen. 

"There she is now, the trollop," said Hannah, but she 
whispered the last word under her breath, and she also 
gave a glance at Maria, as one might at any innocent 
ignorance which must be shielded even from knowledge 

Annie came in directly. Her pretty, light hair was 
nicely arranged ; she was smiling, but she looked doubt- 

Hannah went with a flounce into the kitchen. Annie 
had removed her hat and coat and tied on a white apron 
in a second, and she began waiting exactly as if she had 
come down the back stairs after a night spent in her 



own room. Indeed, she did not dream that either Harry 
or Maria knew that she had not, and she felt quite sure 
of Hannah's ignorance, since Hannah herself had been 
away all night. 

Maria from time to time glanced at Annie, and, 
although she had always liked her, a feeling of repulsion 
came over her. She shrank a little when Annie passed 
the muffins to her. Harry gave one keen, scrutinizing 
glance at the girl's face, but he said nothing. After 
breakfast he went up-stairs to bid Ida, who had a way 
of rising late, good-bye, and he whispered to her, 4 'Annie 
was out all last night." 

"Oh, well," replied Ida, sleepily, with a little impa- 
tience, "it does not happen very often. What are we 
going to do about it?" 

"Hannah is kicking," said Harry, "and — " 

"I can't help it if she is," said Ida. "Annie does her 
work well, and it is so difficult to get a maid nowadays ; 
and I cannot set up as a moral censor, I really cannot, 

" I hate the example, that is all," said Harry. "There 
Hannah said, right before Maria, that Annie had been 

"It won't hurt Maria any," Ida replied, with a slight 
frown. "Maria wouldn't know what she meant. She 
is not only innocent, but ignorant. I can't turn off 
Annie, unless I see another maid as good in prospect. 
Good-bye, dear." 

Harry and Maria walked to the station together. 
Their trains reached Edgham about the same time, 
although going in opposite directions. It was a frosty 
morning. There had been a slight frost the night 
before. A light powder of glistening white lay over 
everything. The roofs were beginning to smoke as 
it melted. Maria inhaled the clear air, and her cour- 
age revived a little — still, not much. Nobody knew 



how she dreaded the day, the meeting Wollaston. She 
could not yet bring herself to call him her husband. It 
seemed at once horrifying and absurd. The frosty air 
brought a slight color to the girl's cheeks, but she still 
looked wretched. Harry, who himself looked more than 
usually worn and old, kept glancing at her, as they 
hastened along. 

"See here, darling," he said, "hadn't you better not 
go to school to-day ? I will write a note of explanation 
myself to the principal, at the office, and mail it in New 
York. Hadn't you better turn around and go home 
and rest to-day ?" 

"Oh no," replied Maria. "I would much rather go, 

"You look as if you could hardly stand up, much less 
go to school." 

"I am all right," said Maria; but as she spoke she 
realized that her knees fairly bent under her, and her 
heart beat loudly in her ears, for they had come in sight 
of the station. 

"You are sure?" Harry said, anxiously. 

"Yes, I am all right. I want to go to school." 

"Well, look out that you eat a good luncheon," said 
Harry, as he kissed her good-bye. 

Maria had to go to the other side to take her Ward- 
way train. She left her father and went under the 
bridge and mounted the stairs. When she gained the 
platform, the first person whom she saw, with a grasp 
of vision which seemed to reach her very heart, although 
she apparently did not see him at all, was Wollaston 
Lee. He also saw her, and his boyish face paled. There 
were quite a number waiting for the train, which was 
late. Maud Page was among them. Maria at once went 
close to her. Maud asked about her little sister. She had 
heard that she was found, although it was almost incon- 
ceivable how the news had spread at such an early hour. 



"I am real glad she's found," said Maud. Then she 
stared curiously at Maria. " Say, was it so ?" she asked. 

"Was what true?" asked Maria, trembling. 

"Was it true that you and Wollaston Lee and Gladys 
Mann all went to New York looking for your sister, and 
came out on the last train?" 

"Yes, it is true," replied Maria, quite steadily. 

"What ever made you?" 

"I thought she might have gone to a cousin of Hers 
who used to live on Forty-ninth Street, but we found 
the cousin had moved when we got there." 

"Gracious!" said Maud. "And you didn't come out 
till that last train?" 


" I should think you would be tired to death, and you 
don't look any too chipper." Maud turned and stared 
at Wollaston, who was standing aloof. "I declare, he 
looks as if he had been up a week of Sundays, too," 
said she. Then she called out to him, in her high-pitch- 
ed treble, which sounded odd coming from her soft 
circumference of throat. Maud's voice ought, by good 
rights, to have been a rich, husky drone, instead of 
bearing a resemblance to a parrot's. ''Say, Wollaston 
Lee," she called out, and the boy approached perforce, 
lifting his hat — "say," said Maud, "I hear you and 
Maria eloped last night." Then she giggled. 

The boy cast a glance of mistrust and doubt at Maria. 
His face turned crimson. 

"You are telling awful whoppers, Maud Page," Maria 
responded, promptly, and his face cleared. "We just 
went in to find Evelyn." 

"Oh!" said Maud, teasingly. 

"You are mean to talk so," said Maria. 

Maud laughed provokingly. 

"What made Wollaston go for, then?" she asked. 
"Do you suppose anybody would let a girl go alone 


to New York on a night train ?" said Maria, with desper- 
ate spirit. "He went because he was polite, so there. 99 

Wollaston said nothing. He tried to look haughty, 
but succeeded in looking sheepish. 

"Gladys Mann went, too," said Maria. 

"I don't see what makes you go with a girl like that 
anywhere?" said Maud. 

"She's as good as anybody," said Maria. 

"Maybe she is," returned Maud. Then she glanced 
at Wollaston, who was looking away, and whispered in 
Maria's ear: "They talk like fury about her, and her 
mother, too." 

"I don't care," Maria said, stoutly. "She was down 
at the station and told me how Evelyn was lost, and 
then she went in with me." 

Maud laughed her aggravating laugh again. 

"Well, maybe it was just as well she did," she said, 
"or else they would have said you and Wollaston had 
eloped, sure." 

Maria began to speak, but her voice was drowned by 
the rumble of the New York train on the other track. 
The Wardway train was late. Usually the two trains 
met at the station. 

However, the New York train had only just pulled 
out of sight before the Wardway train came in. As 
Maria climbed on the train she felt a paper thrust 
forcibly into her hand, which closed over it instinctively. 
She sat with Maud, and had no opportunity to look at 
it all the way to Wardway. She slipped it slyly into 
her Algebra. 

"Maud's eyes were sharp. "What's that you are 
putting in your Algebra?" she asked. 

"A marker," replied Maria. She felt that Maud's cu- 
riosity was such that it justified a white lie. 

She had no chance to read the paper which Wollaston 
had slipped into her hand until she was fairly in school. 



Then she read it under cover of a book. It was very- 
short, and quite manly, although manifestly written un- 
der great perturbation of spirit. 

Wollaston wrote: " Shall I tell your folks to-night ?" 

Wollaston was not in Maria's classes. He was older, 
and had entered in advance. She had not a chance to 
reply until noon. Going into the restaurant, she in her 
turn slipped a paper forcibly into his hand. 

"Good land! look out!" said Maud Page. "Why, 
Maria Edgham, you butted right into Wollaston Lee 
and nearly knocked him over." 

What Maria had written was also short, but desperate. 
She wrote: 

"If you ever tell your folks or my folks, or anybody, 
I will drown myself in Fisher's Pond." 

A look of relief spread over the boy's face. Maria 
glanced at him where he sat at a distant table with some 
boys, and he gave an almost imperceptible nod of re- 
assurance at her. Maria understood that he had not 
told, and would not, unless she bade him. 

On the train going home that night he found a chance 
to speak to her. He occupied the seat behind her, and 
waited until a woman who sat with Maria got off the train 
at a station, and also a man who had occupied the seat 
with him. Then he leaned over and said, ostentatiously, 
so he could be heard half the length of the car, " It is a 
beautiful day, isn't it?" 

Maria did not turn around at all, but her face was 
deadly white as she replied, "Yes, lovely." 

Then the boy whispered, and the whisper seemed to 
reach her inmost soul. "Look here, I want to do what 
is right, and — honorable, you know, but hang me if I 
know what is. It is an awful pickle." 

Maria nodded, still with her face straight ahead. 

"I don't know how it happened, for my part," the 
boy whispered. 



Maria nodded again. 

"I didn't say anything to my folks, because I didn't 
know how you would feel about it. I thought I ought 
to ask you first. But I am not afraid to tell, you needn't 
think that, and I mean to be honorable. If you say so, 
I will go right home with you and tell your folks, and 
then I will tell mine, and we will see what we can do." 

Maria made no answer. She was in agony. It seem- 
ed to her that the whisper was deafening her. 

" I will leave school, and go to work right away," said 
the boy, and his voice was a little louder, and full of 
pathetic manliness; "and I guess in a year's time I 
could get so I could earn enough to support you. I mean 
to do what is right. All is I want to do what you want 
me to do. I didn't know how you felt about it." 

Then Maria turned slightly. He leaned closer. 

" I told you how I felt," she whispered back. 

"You mean what you wrote?" 

"Yes, what I wrote." 

"You don't want me to tell at all?" 

44 Never, as long as you live." 

"How about her?" 


"Yes, confound her!" 

" She won't tell. She won't dare to." 

Wollaston was silent for a moment, then he whispered 
again. 44 Well," he said, 44 1 want to do what you want 
me to and what is honorable. Of course, we are both 
young, and I haven't any money except what father 
gives me, but I am willing to quit school to-morrow and 
go to work. You needn't think I mean to back out and 
show the white feather. I am not that kind. We have 
got into this, and I am ready and willing to do all I 

"I meant what I wrote," whispered Maria again. 44 1 
never want you to tell, and — " 



"And what?" 

" 1 wish you would go and sit somewhere else, and not 
speak to me again. I hate the very sight of you." 

"All right," said the boy. There was a slight echo 
of rancor in his own voice, still it was patient, with the 
patience of a man with a woman and her unreason. All 
his temper of the night before had disappeared. He was 
quite honest in saying that he wished to do what was right 
and honorable. He was really much more of a man than 
he had been the day before. He was conscious of not 
loving Maria — his budding boy-love for her had been 
shocked out of life. He was even repelled by her, but 
he had a strong sense of his duty towards her, and he 
was full of pity for her. He saw how pale and nervous 
and frightened she was. He got up to change his seat, 
but before he went, he leaned over her and whispered 
again: "You need not be a mite afraid, Maria. All I 
want is what will please you and what is right. I will 
never tell, unless you ask me to. You need not worry. 
You had better put it all out of your mind." 

Maria nodded. She felt very dizzy. She was glad 
when Wollaston not only left his seat, but the car, going 
into the smoker. She heard the door slam after him 
with a sense of relief. She felt a great relief at his 
assurance that he would keep their secret. Wollaston 
Lee was a boy whose promises had weight. She looked 
out of the window and a little of her old-time peace 
seemed to descend upon her. She saw how lovely the 
landscape was in the waning light. She saw the new 
moon with a great star attendant, and reflected that it 
was over her right shoulder. After all, youth is hard 
to down, and hope finds a rich soil in it. Then, too, a 
temporization to one who is young means eternity. If 
Wollaston did not tell, and Gladys did not tell, and she 
did not tell, it might all come right somehow in the end. 

She looked at the crescent of the moon, and the great 


depth of light of the star, and her own affairs seemed to 
quiet her with their very littleness. What was little 
Maria Edgham and her ridiculous and tragic matri- 
monial tangle compared with the eternal light of those 
strange celestial things yonder? She would pass, and 
they would remain. She became comforted. She even 
reflected that she was hungry. She had not obeyed her 
father's injunction, and had eaten very little luncheon. 
She thought with pleasure of the good dinner which 
would be awaiting her. Then suddenly she remembered 
how she had talked to Her. How would she be treated ? 
But she remembered that Ida could not have said any- 
thing against her to her father, or, if she had done so, it 
had made no difference to him. She considered Ida's 
character, and it seemed to her quite probable that she 
would make no further reference to the subject. Ida 
was averse even to pursuing enmities, because of the 
inconvenience which they might cause her. It was 
infinitely less trouble to allow birds which had pecked 
at her to fly away than to pursue them; then, too, she 
always remained unshaken in her belief in herself. 
Maria's tirade would not in the least have disturbed her 
self-love, and it is only a wound in self-love which can 
affect some people. Maria was inclined to think that 
Ida would receive her with the same coldly radiant 
smile as usual, and she was right. That night, when 
she entered the bright parlor, glowing with soft lights 
under art-shades, Ida, in her pretty house-gown — scarlet 
cashmere trimmed with medallions of cream lace — greet- 
ed her in the same fashion as she had always done. 
Evelyn ran forward with those squeals of love which 
only a baby can accomplish. Maria, hugging her little 
sister, saw that Ida's countenance was quite unchanged. 

"So you have got home?" said she. "Is it very 

"Not very," replied Maria. 



"I have not been out, and I did not know," Ida said, 
in her usual fashion of making commonplaces appear 
like brilliances. 

" There may be a frost, I don't know," Maria said. 
She was actually confused before this impenetrability. 
Remembering the awful things she had said to Her, she 
was suddenly conscience-stricken as she saw Ida's calm 
radiance of demeanor. She began to wonder if she had 
not been mistaken, if Ida was not really much better 
than she herself. She knew that if srus had had such 
things said to her she could not have appeared so for- 
giving. Such absolute self-love, and self-belief, was in- 
comprehensible to her. She had accused Ida of more 
than she could herself actually comprehend. She began 
to think Ida had a forgiving heart, and that she herself 
had been the wicked one, not She. She responded to 
everything which Ida said with a conciliatory air. Pres- 
ently Harry came in. He was late. He looked very 
worn and tired. Ida sent Josephine up-stairs to get his 
smoking- jacket and slippers, and Maria thought She was 
very kind to her father. Evelyn climbed into his arms, 
but he greeted even her rather wearily. Ida noticed it. 

"Come away, darling," she said. "Papa is tired, and 
you are a heavy little lump of honey," Ida smiled, en- 

Harry looked at her with loving admiration, then at 

"I tell you what it is, I feel pretty thankful to-night, 
when I think of last night — when I realize I have you all 
home," said he. 

Ida smiled more radiantly. "Yes, we ought to be 
very thankful," she said. 

Maria made up her mind that she would apologize to 
her if she had a chance. She did not wish to speak 
before her father, not because she did not wish him to 
know, but because she did not wish to annoy him, he 



looked so tired. She had a chance after dinner, when 
Josephine was putting Evelyn to bed, and Harry had 
been called to the door to speak to a man on business. 

"I am sorry I spoke as I did to you," she said, in a 
low voice, to Ida. 

They were both in the parlor. Maria had a school- 
book in her hand, and Ida was embroidering. The rosy 
shade of the lamp intensified the glow on her beautiful 
face. She looked smilingly at Maria. 

"Why, my dear," she said, "I don't know what you 
said. I have forgotten." 


Now commenced an odd period of her existence for 
Maria Edgham. She escaped a transition stage which 
comes to nearly every girl by her experience in New 
York, the night when Evelyn was lost. There is usually 
for a girl, if not for a boy, a stage of existence when she 
flutters, as it were, over the rose of life, neither lighting 
upon it nor leaving it, when she is not yet herself, when 
she does not comprehend herself at all, except by glimp- 
ses of emotions, as one may see one facet of a diamond 
but never the complete stone. Maria had, in a few 
hours, become settled, crystallized, and she gave evidence 
of it indisputably in one way — she had lost her dreams. 
When a girl no longer dreams of her future she has found 
herself. Maria had always been accustomed to go to 
sleep lulled by her dreams of innocent romance. Now 
she no longer had them, it was as if a child missed a 
lullaby. She was a long time in getting to sleep at all, 
and she did not sleep well. She no longer stared over 
the page of a lesson-book into her own future, as into a 
crystal well wherein she saw herself glorified by new 
and strange happiness. She studied, and took higher 
places in her classes, but she did not look as young or 
as well. She grew taller and thinner, and she looked 
older. People said Maria Edgham was losing her beauty, 
that she would not be as pretty a woman as she had 
promised to make, after all. Maria no longer dwelt so 
long and pleasurably upon her reflection in the glass. 
She simply arranged her hair and neck-gear tidily and 
went her way. She did not care so much for her pretty 
14 1 99 


clothes. A girl without her dreams is a girl without her 
glory of youth. She did not quite realize what was the 
matter, but she knew that she was no longer so fair to 
see, and that the combination of herself and a new gown 
was not what it had been. She felt as if she had reached 
the last page of her book of life, and the ennui of middle 
age came over her. She had not reached the last page ; 
she was, of course, mistaken; but she had reached a 
paragraph so tremendous that it seemed to her the 
climax, as if there could be nothing beyond it. She was 

married that is, she had been pronounced a wife! 

There was, there could be, nothing further. She was 
both afraid of, and disliked, the boy who had married 
her. There was nothing ahead that she could see but 
a commonplace existence without romance and without 
love. She as yet did not dwell upon the possible com- 
plications which might arise from her marriage. It 
simply seemed to her that she should always live a 
spinster, although the marriage ceremony had been pro- 
nounced over her. She began to realize that in order to 
live in this way she must take definite steps. She knew 
that her father was not rich. The necessity for work 
and earning her own living in the future began to pre- 
sent itself. She made up her mind to fit herself for a 

"Papa, I am going to teach," she told her father one 

Ida had gone out. It was two years after her mar- 
riage, and Maria looked quite a woman. She and her 
father were alone. Evelyn had gone to bed. Maria 
had tucked her in and kissed her good-night. Josephine 
was no longer a member of the family. In a number of 
ways expenses had been retrenched. Harry would not 
admit it, and Ida did not seem aware of it, but his 
health was slowly but surely failing. That very day he 
had consulted a specialist in New York, taking his turn 



in the long line of waiting applicants in the office. When 
he came out he had a curious expression on his face, 
which made more than one of the other patients, how- 
ever engrossed in their own complaints, turn around 
and look after him. He looked paler than when he had 
entered the office, but not exactly cast down. He had 
rather a settled expression, as of one who had come in 
sight, not of a goal of triumph, but of the end of a long 
and wearisome journey. In these days Harry Edgham 
was so unutterably wean', he drove himself to his work 
with such lashes of spirit, that he was almost incapable 
of revolt against any sentence of fate. There comes a 
time to every one, to some when young, to some when 
old, that too great a burden of labor, or of days, renders 
the thought of the last bed of earth unterrifying. The 
spirit, overcome with weariness of matter, droops earth- 
ward with no rebellion. Harry, who had gotten his 
death-sentence, went out of the doctor's office and hailed 
his ferry-bound car, and realized very little difference 
in his attitude from what he had done before. He had 
still time before him, possibly quite a long time. He 
thought of leaving Ida and the little one and Maria, 
but he had a feeling as if he were beginning the travers- 
ing of a circle which would in the end bring him back, 
rather than of departure. It was as if he were about to 
circumnavigate life itself. Suddenly, however, his fore- 
head contracted. Material matters began to irritate 
him. He thought of Maria, and how slight a provision 
he had made for her. His life was already insured for 
the benefit of Ida. Ida would have that and her widow's 
share. Little Evelyn would also have her share of his 
tiny estate, which consisted of nothing more than his 
house and lot in Edgham and a few hundreds in the 
bank, and poor Maria would have nothing except the 
paltry third remaining. When Maria, sitting alone with 
him in the parlor, announced her intention of fitting 



herself for a teacher, he viewed her with quick interest. 
It was the evening of the very day on which he had con- 
sulted the specialist. 

"Let me see, dear," he returned; "how many years 
more have you at the academy?" 

" I can graduate next year," Maria replied, with pride. 
This last year she had been taking enormous strides, 
which had placed her ahead of her class. "At least, I 
can if I work hard," she added. 

"I don't want you to work too hard," Harry said, 

"I am perfectly well," said Maria. And she did in 
reality look entirely well, in spite of her thinness and 
expression of premature maturity. There was a wiri- 
ness about her every movement w T hich argued, if not 
actual robustness, the elasticity of bending and not 
breaking before the stresses of life. 

"Let me see, you will be pretty young to teach, then," 
said Harry. 

"I think I can get a school," Maria said. 


"Aunt Maria said she thought I could get that little 
school near her in Amity. The teacher is engaged, and 
she said she thought she would get married before so 
very long. She said she thought she must have almost 
enough money for her wedding outfit. That is what she 
has been working for." 

Harry smiled a little. 

"Aunt Maria said she was to marry a man with means, 
and she was working quite a while in order to buy a nice 
trousseau," said Maria. "Aunt Maria said she was a 
very high-spirited young lady. But she said she thought 
she had been engaged so long that she would probably 
not wait more than a year longer, and she could get the 
school for me. Uncle Henry is one of the committee, 
you know." 



"You are pretty young to begin teaching," Harry 
said, thoughtfully. 

" Aunt Maria said she thought I did not look as young 
as I really was, and there wouldn't be any difficulty 
about it," said Maria. "She said she thought I would 
have good government, and Uncle Henry thought so, 
too, and Aunt Eunice." 

Aunt Eunice was Maria's Uncle Henry's wife. Maria 
had paid a visit to Amity the summer before, renewing 
her acquaintance with her relatives. 

"Well, we will see," said Harry, after a pause. Then 
he added, somewhat pitifully: "Father wishes there was 
no need for his little girl to work. He wishes he had 
been able to put more by, but if — " 

Maria looked at her father with quick concern. 

"Father, what is the matter with you?" she asked. 
"I don't care about the working part. I want to work. 
I shall like to go to Amity, and board with Aunt Maria, 
and teach, except for leaving you and Evelyn, but — 
what is the matter with you, father?" 

"Nothing is the matter. Why?" asked Harry; and 
he tried to smile. 

"What made you speak so, father?" 

Maria had sprung to her feet, and was standing in 
front of her father, with pale face and dilated eyes. 
Her father looked at her and hesitated. 

"Tell me, father; I ought to know," said Maria. 

"There is nothing immediate, as far as I know," said 
Harry, "but—" 

"But what?" 

"Well, dear, nobody can live always, and of course 
you can't realize it, young as you are, and with no 
responsibilities; but father is older, and sometimes he 
can't help thinking. He wishes he had been able to 
save a little more, in case anything happened to him, 
and he can't help planning what you would do if — any- 



thing happened to him. You know, dear," Harry hesi- 
tated a little, then he continued — "you know, dear, 
that father had his life insured for — Ida, and I doubt 
if — I am older, you know, now, and those companies 
don't like to take chances. I doubt if I could, or I 
would have an additional insurance put on my life for 
you. Then Ida would have by law her share of this 
property, and Evelyn her share, and all you would have 
would be a very little, and — Well, father can't help 
thinking that perhaps it would be wise for you to make 
some plans so you can help yourself a little, but — it 
almost breaks father's heart to think that — his — little 
girl — " Poor Harry fairly broke down and sobbed. 

Maria's arm was around his neck in a moment, and 
his poor gray head, which had always been, in a way, 
the head of an innocent boy, was on her young girl 
breast. She did not ask him any more questions. She 
knew. " Poor father!" she said. Her own voice broke, 
then she steadied it again with a resolute effort of her 
will. There was a good deal of her mother in Maria. 
The sight of another's weakness always aroused her own 
strength. "Father," she said, "now you just listen to 
me. I won't hear any more talk of anything happening 
to you. You have not eaten enough lately. I have 
noticed it. That is all that ails you. You have not 
had enough nourishment. I want you to go to-morrow 
to Dr. Wells and get some of that tonic that helped 
you so much before, and, father, I want you to stop 
worrying about me. I honestly want to teach. I want 
to be independent. I should, if you were worth a 
million. It does not worry me at all to think I am not 
going to have enough money to live on without work- 
ing, not at all. I want you to remember that, and not 
fret any more about it." 

For answer, Harry sobbed against the girl's shoulder. 
"It seems as if I might have saved more," he said, piti- 



fully, "but— I have had heavy expenses, and somehow 
I didn't seem to have the knack that some men have. 
I made one or two investments that didn't turn out 
well. I didn't say anything about them to — Ida." 

"I sha'n't say a word, father," Maria responded, 

* ' Well, I thought maybe — if they turned out all right, 
I might have something to leave you, but — they didn't. 
There's never any counting on those things, and I 
wasn't on the inside of the market. I thought they 
were all right. I meant it for the best." 

Maria stroked the gray head, as her mother might 
have done. "Of course you did, father," said she. 
"Now, don't you worry one bit more about it. You 
get that tonic. You don't look just right, and you need 
something to give you an appetite; and don't you ever 
have another thought as far as I am concerned. I have 
always wanted to teach, or do something to make my- 
self independent." 

"You may marry somebody who will look out for 
you after father has gone," half whimpered Harry. 
His disease and his distress were making him fairly 
childish, now he realized a supporting love beside him. 

Maria quivered a little. "I shall never marry, 
father," she said. 

Harry laughed a little, even in the midst of his dis- 
tress. "Well, dear, we won't worry about that now," 
he said; "only, if you ever do marry, I hope you will 
marry a good, honest man who can take care of you." 

"I never shall marry," Maria said again. There 
was an odd inflection in her voice which her father did 
not understand. Her cheeks burned hot against his, 
but it was not due to the modesty of young girlhood, 
which flees even that which it secretly desires. Maria 
was reflecting upon her horrible deception, how every 
day and every minute of her life she was deceiving her 



father, but she dared not tell him. She dared less now 
than ever, in the light of her sudden conviction concern- 
ing his ill-health. Maria had been accustomed so long 
to seeing her father look tired and old that the true 
significance of it had not struck her. She had not re- 
flected that her father was not in reality an old man — but 
scarcely past middle age — and that there must be some 
disease to account for his appearance. Now she knew; 
but along with the knowledge came the conviction that 
he must not know that she had it, that it would only 
add to his distress. She kissed him, and took up the 
evening paper which had fallen from his knees to the 

"Suppose I read to you, father ?" she said. 

Harry looked gratefully at her. "But you have to 
learn your lesson/ ' 

"Oh, I can finish that in school to-morrow. I don't 
feel like working any more to-night, and I do feel like 
reading the paper.' ' 

"Won't it tire you, dear?" 

"Tire me? Now, father, what do you take me for?" 
Maria settled herself in a chair. Harry leaned back his 
head contentedly ; he had always liked to be read to, and 
lately reading to himself had hurt his eyes. " Now, what 
shall I read, father?" she said. 

Poor Harry, remembering his own futile investments, 
asked for the stock-list, and Maria read it very intelli- 
gently for a young girl who knew nothing about stocks. 

"Once I owned some of that stock," said Harry, 

"Did you, father?" Maria responded, admiringly. 

"Yes, and only look where it is now! If I could only 
have held on to it, I might have been quite a rich man." 

Harry spoke, oddly enough, with no regret. Such 
was the childishness of the man that a possession once 
his never seemed wholly lost to him. It seemed to him 



that he had reason to be proud of having made such a 
wise investment, even if he had never actually reaped 
any benefit from it. 

" I don't see how you knew what to invest in," Maria 
said, fostering his pride. 

"Oh, I had to study the stock-lists and ask brokers," 
Harry replied. He looked brighter. This little rein- 
statement in his self-esteem acted like a tonic. In some 
fashion Ida always kept him alive to his own deficiencies, 
and that was not good for a man who was naturally 
humble-minded. Harry sat up straighter. He looked 
at Maria with brighter eyes as she continued reading. 
"Now that is a good investment," said he — "that bond. 
If I had the money to spare I would buy one of those 
bonds to-morrow morning." 

"Are bonds better than stocks, father ?" asked Maria. 

"Yes," replied Harry, importantly. "Always remem- 
ber that, if you have any money to invest. A man 
can afford to buy stocks, because he has better oppor- 
tunities of judging of the trend of the market, but bonds 
are always safer for a woman." 

Maria regarded her father again with that innocent 
admiration for his wisdom, which seemed to act like a 
nerve stimulant. A subtle physician might possibly 
have reached the conclusion, had he been fully aware 
of all the circumstances, that Ida, with her radiant 
superiority, her voiceless but none the less positive self- 
assertion over her husband, was actually a means of 
spiritual depression which had reacted upon his physical 
nature. Nobody knows exactly to what extent any of 
us are responsible for the lives of others, and how far 
our mere existences may be derogatory to our fellow- 
beings. Harry was visibly brighter. 

"You don't look half as tired as you did, father," 
Maria said. 

" I don't feel so tired," replied Harry. " It has rested 


me to hear you read. Remember what I have told you, 
dear, about bonds — always bonds, and never stocks, for 
a woman." 

"Yes, father," said Maria. Then she added, "I am 
going to save all I can when I begin to earn." 

"Your aunt Maria will only ask you enough board to 
make it possible for her to pay the bills ? You know she 
has only a hundred a year to live on. Of course your 
uncle Henry lets her have her rent free, or she couldn't 
do it, but she is a fine manager. She manages very much 
as your mother did." As he spoke, Harry looked around 
the luxurious apartment and reflected that, had his first 
wife lived, he himself could have saved, and there might 
have been no need for this little, delicate girl to earn her 
own living. He sighed, and the weary look settled over 
his face again. 

Maria rose. "Father," said she, "Annie has gone 
out, and so has Hannah, and I am going out in the 
kitchen and make a cup of that thick chocolate that 
you like, for you." 

"It is too much trouble, dear." 

"Nonsense!" said Maria. "I would like to do it, and 
it won't take a minute. There is a good fire in the 

While Maria was gone, Harry sat gazing out of the 
window. He had always now, when he looked out of 
a window, the sensation of a man who was passing in 
rapid motion all the old familiar objects, all the land- 
marks of his life, or rather — for one never rids one's self 
of that particular optical delusion — it was as if they were 
passing. The conviction of one's own transit is difficult 
to achieve. Harry gazed out of the window, and it was 
to him as if the familiar trees which bordered the side- 
walk, the shrubs in the yard, the houses which were 
within view, were flitting past him in a mad whirl. He 
was glad when Maria entered with the chocolate, in his 



own particular cup, and a dainty plate of cheese sand- 

" I thought perhaps you could eat a sandwich, father, " 
she said. " I don't believe you had anything decent for 
lunch in New York." 

"I didn't have much," said Harry. He did not add, 
what was the truth, that lately he had been stinting 
himself on his luncheons in the effort to save a little 
more of his earnings. He ate nearly all the sandwiches, 
and drank two cups of chocolate, and really looked much 

"You need more nourishment, father," said Maria, 
with a wise, maternal air, which was also half accusatory, 
and which made Harry think so strongly of his first wife 
that he regarded Maria as he might have regarded her 

"You grow more and more like your own mother, 
dear," he said. 

"Well, I am glad of that," replied Maria. "Mother 
was a good woman. If I can only be half as good as 
mother was." 

"Your mother was a good woman," said Harry, re- 
flectively; and as he spoke he seemed to feel the arms 
of strong, almost stern, feminity and faithfulness which 
had encompassed his childlike soul for so many years. 
He owned to himself that Maria's mother had been a 
much more suitable wife for him than this other woman. 
Then he had a little qualm of remorse, for Ida came in 
sight, richly dressed and elegant, as usual, with Evelyn 
dancing along beside her. Mrs. Adams was with her. 
Mrs. Adams was talking and Ida was smiling. It was 
more becoming to Ida to smile than to talk. She had dis- 
covered long since that she had not so very much to say, 
and that her smiles were better coin of her little realm ; 
she therefore generally employed them in preference. 

Maria got up hastily and took the tray and the 


chocolate-cups. "I guess Mrs. Adams is coming in," 
said she. 

"You didn't make enough chocolate to give them? ,, 
Harry said, hesitatingly. 

"No," replied Maria, and her tone was a little curt 
even to her father. "And I used up the last bit of 
chocolate in the house, too." Then she scudded out of 
the room with her tray and passed the front door as the 
sound of Ida's latch-key was heard in the lock. Maria 
set her tray on the kitchen-table and hurried up the 
back stairs to her own room. She entered it and locked 
both doors, the one communicating with the hall and 
the one which connected it with Evelyn's room. She 
had no sooner done so than she heard the quick patter 
of little feet, and the door leading into Evelyn's room 
was tried, then violently shaken. "Let me in, sister; 
let me in," cried the sweet little flute of a voice on the 
other side. Evelyn could now talk plainly, but she 
still kept to her baby appellation for her sister. 

"No, darling, sister can't let you in now," replied 

"Why not? Let me in, sister." 

"Sister is going to study," said Maria, in a firm voice. 
"She can't have Evelyn. Run down-stairs, darling; 
run down to mamma." 

"Evelyn don't want mamma. Evelyn wants sister." 

"Papa is down there, too. Put on your clothes, like 
a nice girl, and show papa how smart you can be; then 
run down." 

"Evelyn can't button up her dress." 

"Put everything on but that, then run down, and 
mamma can do it for you." 

"Let me in, sister." 

"No, dear," Maria said again. "Evelyn can't come 
in now. 

There came a little whimper of grief and anger which 


cut Maria's heart, but she was firm. She could not have 
even Evelyn then. She had to be alone with the 
knowledge she had just gained of her father's state of 
health. She sat down in her little chair by the window; 
it was her own baby chair, which she had kept all these 
years, and in which she could still sit comfortably, she 
was so slender. Then she put her face in her hands and 
began to weep. She had never wept as she did then, 
not even when her mother died. She was so much 
younger when her mother died that her sensibilities had 
not acquired their full acumen; then, too, she had not 
had at that time the awful foretaste of a desolate future 
which tinctured with bitter her very soul. Somehow, 
although Maria had noticed for a long time that her 
father did not look as he had done, it had never occurred 
to her that that which had happened to her mother 
could happen to her father. She had been like one in 
a house which has been struck by lightning, and had 
been rendered thereby incredulous of a second stroke. 
It had not occurred to her that whereas she had lost her 
mother, she could also lose her father. It seemed like 
too heavy a hammer-stroke of Providence to believe in 
and keep her reason. She had thought that her father 
was losing his youth, that his hair turning gray had 
much to do with his altered looks. She had never 
thought of death. It seemed to her monstrous. A 
rage against Providence, like nothing which she had 
known before, was over her. Why should she lose 
everything? What had she done? She reviewed her 
past life, and she defended herself like Job, with her 
summary of self-righteousness. She had always done 
right, so far as she knew. Her sins had been so petty 
as hardly to deserve the name of sins. She remembered 
how she had once enjoyed seeing her face in her looking- 
glass, how she had liked pretty, new dresses, and she 
could not make that seem very culpable. She remem- 



bered how, although she had never loved her step-mother, 
she had observed, except on that one occasion when 
Evelyn was lost, the utmost respect and deference for 
her — how she had been, after the first, even willing to 
love her had she met with the slightest encouragement. 
She could not honestly blame herself for her carefully 
concealed attitude of disapproval towards Ida, for she 
said to herself, with a subtlety which was strange for a 
girl so young, that she had merited it, that she was a 
cold, hard, self - centred woman, not deserving love, 
and that she had in reality been injurious for her father. 
She was convinced that, had her own mother lived, with 
her half - censorious yet wholly loving care for him, he 
might still have preserved his youth and his handsome 
boyishness and health. She thought of the half-absurd, 
half -tragic secret which underlay her life, and she could 
not honestly think herself very much to blame for that. 
She always thought of that with bewilderment, as one 
might think of some dimly remembered vagary of 
delirium. Sometimes it seemed to her now that it 
could not be true. Maria realized that she was full of 
self -righteousness, but she was also honest. She saw 
no need for her to blame herself for faults which she 
had not committed. She thought of the doctrine which 
she had heard, that children were wholly evil from their 
birth, and it did not seem to her true. She could say 
that she had been wholly evil from her birth, but she 
felt that she should, if she did say so, tell a lie to God 
and herself. She honestly could not see why, for any 
fault of hers, her father should die. Then suddenly her 
mind gave a leap from her own standing-point to that 
of her father. She suddenly reflected that it was not 
wholly her own grief for his loss which was to be con- 
sidered, but her father's grief at quitting the world 
wherein he had dwelt so long, and his old loves of life. 
She reflected upon his possible fear of the Unknown 



into which he was to go. There was in Maria's love for 
her father, as there had been in her mother's, a strong 
element of the maternal. She thought of her father 
with infinite pity, as one might think of a little child 
about to go on a long, strange journey to an unknown 
place, all alone by himself. It seemed to her an awful 
thing for God to ask one like her father to die a linger- 
ing death, to realize it all fully, what he had to do, then 
to go off by himself, alone. She remembered what she 
had heard from the pulpit on Sundays, but somehow 
that Unknown seemed so frightfully wide and vast for 
a soul like her father's, which had always been so like 
the soul of a child, to find her mother in. Then she got 
some comfort from the memory of her mother, of her 
great strength. It seemed to her that her mother, 
wherever she was, would not let her father wana^ alone 
very long. That she would meet him with that love 
and chiding which is sometimes the very concert-pitch 
of love itself, its key-note, and lead him into those green 
pastures and beside those still waters of the Psalmist. 
Maria, at that moment, got more comfort from her 
memory of the masterliness of her mother, whom she 
had known, than from her conception of God, towards 
whom her soul reached out, it is true, but whom it no 
more comprehended than a flower comprehends the 
sun. The very love of God needs a human trellis where- 
by His creatures can reach Him, and Maria now climbed 
towards a trust in Him, by the reflection of her mother's 
love, and strength in spite of love. 

Then racking pity for herself and her own loss, and 
rage because of it, and a pity for her father which almost 
roused her to a fury of rebellion, again swept away every 
other consideration. 

"Poor father! poor father!" she sobbed, under her 
breath. "There he is going to die, and he hasn't got 
mother to take care of him! She won't do anything. 



She will try not to smile, that is all. And I can't do 
anything, the way mother could. Father don't want 
me to even act as if I knew it ; but if mother were alive 
he would tell her, and she would help him." Then 
Maria thought of herself, poor, solitary, female thing 
travelling the world alone, for she never thought, at 
that time, of her marriage being anything which would 
ever be a marriage in reality, but as of something which 
cast her outside the pale of possibilities and made her 
more solitary still, and she wept silently, or as silently 
as she could; once in awhile a murmur of agony or a 
sob escaped her. She could not help it. She got up 
out of her little chair and flung herself on the floor, and 
fairly writhed with the pain of her awful grief and sense 
of loss. She became deaf to any sound; all her senses 
seemed to have failed her. She was alive only to that 
sense of grief which is the primeval sense of the world — 
the grief of existence itself and the necessity of death 
and loss. 

All at once she felt a little, soft touch, and another 
little, weeping, human thing, born like herself to all the 
awful chances of love and grief, flung itself down beside 

Maria had locked her doors, but she had forgotten 
her window, which opened on an upper balcony, and 
was easily accessible to any one climbing out of the 
hall window. Evelyn had been listening at her door 
and had heard her sobs. Knowing from experience that 
her sister meant what she said, she had climbed out of 
the hall window, scudded along the little balcony, and 
into Maria's window. She flung herself down on the 
floor, and wept so violently that Maria was alarmed. 

"Why, baby, darling, what is it? Tell sister," she 
said, hushing her own sobs. 

The child continued to sob. Her whole little frame 
was shaken convulsively. 



''Tell sister," whispered Maria. 

"I'm cryin' 'cause — 'cause — " panted the child. 

"Because what, darling ?" 

"Because you are crying, and — and — " 

"And what?" 

" 'Cause I 'ain't got anything to cry for." 

"Why, you precious darling!" said Maria. She hugged 
the child close, and all at once a sense of peace and 
comfort came over her, even in the face of approaching 
disaster. She sensed the love and pity which holds the 
world, through this little human key-note of it which 
had struck in her ears, 


Harry Edgham's disease proved to be one of those 
concerning which no physician can accurately calculate 
its duration or termination. It had, as diseases often 
have, its periods of such utter quiescence that it seemed 
as if it had entirely disappeared. It was not a year 
after Harry had received his indeterminate death sen- 
tence before he looked better than he had done for a 
long while. The color came back to his cheeks, his 
expression regained its youthful joyfulness. Everybody 
said that Harry Edgham was quite well again. He had 
observed a certain diet and taken remedies; then, in 
the summer, he took, for the first time for years, an 
entire vacation of three weeks, and that had its effect 
for the better. 

Maria began to be quite easy with regard to her 
father's health. It seemed to her that, since he looked 
so well, he must be well. Her last winter at the Lowe 
Academy was entirely free from that worriment. Then, 
too, Wollaston Lee had graduated and begun his college 
course, and she no longer had him constantly before her 
eyes, bringing to memory that bewildering, almost mad- 
dening experience of theirs that night in New York. 
She was almost happy, in an odd, middle-aged sort of 
fashion, during her last term at the academy before her 
graduation. She took great pride in her progress in 
her studies. She was to graduate first of her class. 
She did not even have to work very hard to accomplish 
it. Maria had a mind of marvellous quickness of grasp. 
Possibly her retentive powers were not entirely in pro- 



portion, but, at all events, she accomplished much with 
comparatively little labor. 

Harry was very proud of her. The evening before 
her graduation Ida had gone to New York to the 
theatre and Evelyn was in bed, and Maria dressed herself 
in her graduation gown, which was charming — Ida had 
never neglected her, in respect to dress, at least — and 
came down to show herself to her father. He would 
not be able to be present at the graduation on account 
of an unusual press of business. Maria came so lightly 
that she almost seemed to float into the room, with her 
fine white draperies trailing behind her and her knots 
of white ribbon fluttering, and stood before her father. 

4 ' Father/ 1 said she, "I want you to see the way I'll 
look to-morrow. Isn't this dress pretty ?" 

"Lovely," said Harry. "It is very becoming, too," 
he added. 

Indeed, Maria really looked pretty again in this 
charming costume. During the last few months her 
cheeks had filled out and she had gotten some lovely 
curves of girlhood. Her eyes shone with a peculiar 
brilliancy, her red lips trembled into a smile, her hair, 
in a fluff above her high forehead, caught the light. 

Maria laughed gayly. "Take care, father, or you will 
make me vain," she said. 

"You have some reason to be," Harry said, honestly. 
"You are going to graduate first in your class, and — 
well, you are pretty, dear — at least you are to father, 
and, I guess, to other folks." 

Maria blushed. "Only to father, because he is par- 
tial," she said. Then she went up to him and rubbed 
her blooming cheek against his. "Do you know what 
makes me happier than anything else?" she said — 
"happier than graduating first, happier than my pretty 
dress, happier than anything?" 

"No. What, dear?" 



" Feeling that you are well again. " 

There was an almost imperceptible pause before Har- 
ry replied. Then he said, in his pleasant voice, which 
had never grown old, "Yes, dear; I am better, dear, I 

"Think," Maria said, gayly. "Why, you are well, 
father. Don't you know you are well?" 

"Yes, I think I am better, dear." 

"Better? You are well. Nobody can look as young 
and handsome as you do and be ill, possibly. You are 
well, father. I know you can't quite get what that 
horrid old croaking doctor told you out of your mind, 
but doctors don't know everything. You are well, and 
that makes me happier than anything else in the world." 

Harry laughed a little faintly. "Well, I dare say you 
are right, dear," he said. 

"Right? — of course I am right," said Maria. Then 
she danced off to change her gown. 

After she had gone, Harry rose from the chair; he 
had been sitting beside the centre-table with the evening 
paper. He walked over to the window and looked out 
at the night. It was bright moonlight. The trees were 
in full leaf, and the shadows were of such loveliness that 
they fairly seemed celestial. Harry gazed out at the 
night scene, at the moon riding through the unbelievable 
and unfathomable blue of the sky, like a crystal ball, 
with a slight following of golden clouds ; he gazed at the 
fairy shadows which transformed the familiar village 
street into something beyond earth, and he sighed. 
The conviction of his approaching dissolution had never 
been so strong as at that moment. He seemed fairly to 
see his own mortality — that gate of death which lay wide 
open for him. Yet, all at once, a sense of peace and 
trust almost ineffable came over him. Death seemed 
merely the going-out into the true open, the essence of 
the moonlight and the beauty. It seemed the tasting 



and absorbing the food for his own spiritual hunger, 
which had been upon him from birth, that which had 
always been just out of his reach. When Maria re- 
turned in her pink gingham school-gown, she found her 
father seated beside the table as he had been when she 
left. He looked up at her with a bright smile which 
somehow chilled her, although she tried to drive the 
conviction of the chill from her mind. She got a new 
book from the case, and proposed reading aloud to him. 

"Hadn't you better go to bed, dear?" said Harry. 
"You will have a hard day to-morrow." 

"No; I am going to sit up with you till She comes 
home," said Maria, "and we might as well amuse our- 
selves." She began to read, and Harry listened happily. 
But Maria, whenever she glanced over her book at her 
father's happy face, felt the same undefinable chill. 

However, when Ida came home and they had a little 
supper of sardines and crackers, she did not think any 
more of it. She went to bed with her head full of the 
morrow and her new gown and the glories awaiting 
her. She tried not to be vain, but was uncomfortably 
conscious that she was glad that she was first in her 
class, instead of some other girl or instead of a boy. 
Maria felt especially proud of ranking ahead of the boys. 

The next day was, as she had anticipated, one of happy 
triumph for her. She stood on the stage in her lovely 
dress and read her valedictory, which, although trite 
enough, was in reality rather better in style than most 
valedictories. She received a number of presents, a 
tiny gold watch from her father among them, and a 
ring with a turquoise stone from Ida, and quantities of 
flowers. The day after the graduation Maria had her 
photograph taken, with all her floral offerings around 
her, with a basket of roses on her arm and great bou- 
quets in her lap and on a little photographic table beside 
her. The basket of roses was an anonymous offering. 

2 19 


It came with no card. If Maria had dreamed that 
Wollaston Lee had sent it, she would never have sat for 
her photograph with it on her arm. But she did not 
think of Wollaston at all that day. He was completely 
out of her mind for the time, swallowed up in her sense 
of personal joy and triumph. Wollaston had not grad- 
uated first in his class in the academy the year before. 
A girl had headed that class also. Maria had felt a 
malicious joy at the fact, at the time, and it was entirely 
beyond her imagination now that Wollaston, who had 
seemed to dislike her, although she was forced to admit 
that he had been exceedingly honorable, had sent roses 
to her. She suspected that one of the teachers, a young 
man who had paid, in a covert and shamefaced way, a 
little attention to her, had sent the basket. She thought 
the roses lovely, and recognized the inadvisability of 
thanking this teacher, since he had not enclosed his 
card. She did not like him very well — indeed, she felt 
a certain repugnance to him — but roses were roses, and 
she was a young girl. 

"Who gave you the basket of roses, dear ?" her father 
asked when she was displaying her trophies the day 
after her graduation. 

Maria blushed. "X don't know," said she; "there 
wasn't any card with them." As she spoke she seemed 
to see the face of the young history teacher, Mr. Latimer, 
with his sparse, sandy beard, and she felt how very dis- 
tasteful he was to her, even if gilded, so to speak, by 

"I think some enamoured boy in her class who was 
too shy to send his card with his floral offering was the 
one," Ida said to Harry when Maria had gone out. She 
laughed a softly sarcastic laugh. 

Harry looked at her uneasily. 

"Maria is too young to get such ideas into her head," 
he said. 



"My dear," said Ida, "you forget that such ideas do 
not get into girls' heads; they are born in them." 

"I presume one of the other girls sent them," said 
Harry, almost angrily. 

"Perhaps," replied Ida, and again she laughed her 
soft, sarcastic laugh, which grated terribly on Harry. 
It irritated him beyond measure that any boy should 
send roses to this little, delicate, fair girl of his. For all 
he had spoken of her marriage, the very idea of confid- 
ing her to any other man than himself made him furious. 
Especially the idea of some rough school-boy, who knew 
little else than to tumble about in a football game and 
was not his girl's mental equal, irritated him. He went 
over in his mind all the boys in her class. The next 
morning, going to New York, Edwin Shaw, who had lost 
much of his uncouthness and had divorced himself 
entirely from his family in the matter of English, was 
on the train, and he scowled at him with such inscrutable 
fierceness that the boy fairly trembled. He always 
bowed punctiliously to Maria's father, and this morning 
Maria was with her father. She was to have a day off: 
sit in her father's office and read a book until noon, then 
go to lunch with him at a French restaurant, then go 
to the matinee. She wore a festive silk waist, and 
looked altogether lovely, the boy thought. 

"Who is that great gawk of a fellow?" asked Harry 
of Maria. 

"Edwin Shaw. He was in my class," replied Maria, 
and she blushed, for no earthly reason except that her 
father expected her to do so. Young girls are some- 
times very ready, even to deceit, to meet the emotional 
expectations of their elders. Harry then and there 
made up his mind that Edwin Shaw was the sender of 
the basket of roses. 

"He comes of a family below par, and he shows it," 
he said, viciously, to Maria. He scowled again at 



Edwin's neck, which was awkwardly long above his 
collar, but the boy did not see it. He sat on the oppo- 
site side of the car a seat in advance. 

Harry said again to Maria, when they had left the 
train, and Edwin, conscious of his back, which he was 
straightening, was striding in front of them, what a 
great gawk of a fellow he w T as, and how he came of a 
family below par. Maria assented indifferently. She 
did not dream of her father's state of mind, and, as for 
Edwin Shaw, he was no more to her than a set of car- 
steps, not so much, because the car-steps were of obvi- 
ous use. 

That very night, when Maria and her father reached 
home after a riotous day in the city, there was a letter 
in the post-office from Aunt Maria, to the effect that 
there was no doubt that Maria could have the school in 
Amity in the fall. The teacher who had held the posi- 
tion w T as to be married in a few weeks. The salary w 7 as 
not much — Amity was a poor little country village — but 
Maria felt as if she had expectations of untold wealth. 
She was sorry at the prospect of leaving her father and 
Evelyn, but the idea of self-support and independence, 
and taking a little of the burden from her father, intoxi- 
cated her. Maria had the true spirit of the women of 
her race. She liked the feel of her own muscles and 
nerves of individuality and self-reliance. She felt a 
head taller after she had read her aunt's letter. 

''She says she will board me for four dollars a week," 
she said. "I shall have quite a lot of money clear." 

"Well, four dollars a week will recompense her, and 
help her, too," said Harry, a little gloomily. To tell the 
truth, he did not in the least like the idea of Maria's 
going to Amity to teach. Nothing except the inner 
knowledge of his own failing health could have led him 
to consent to it. Ida was delighted at the news, but 
she concealed her delight as well as her annoyance under 



her smiling mask, and immediately began to make plans 
for Maria's wardrobe. 

" Whatever I have new I am going to pay you back, 
father, now I am going to earn money,' ' Maria said, 

After she went up-stairs to bed that night, Evelyn, 
who was now a slim, beautiful little girl, rather tall for 
her age, and going to a private school in the village, 
came into her room, and Maria told Evelyn how much 
she was going to do with the money which she was to 
earn. Maria, at this time, was wholly mercenary. She 
had not the least ambition to benefit the young. She 
was, in fact, young herself, but her head was fairly 
turned with the most selfish of considerations. It was 
true that she planned to spend the money which she 
would earn largely upon others, but that was, in itself, 
a subtle, more rarefied form of selfishness. 

"I remember Aunt Maria's parlor carpet was worn 
almost threadbare, and I mean to buy her a new one 
with the very first money I earn," Maria said to little 
Evelyn; and she thought, as she met Evelyn's beautiful, 
admiring eyes, how very kind and thoughtful she, Maria, 
would be with her wealth. 

"I suppose Aunt Maria is very poor," Evelyn re- 
marked, in her charming little voice. 

"Oh, very. She lives on a hundred dollars a year." 

"Will you get enough to eat?" asked Evelyn, anxi- 

"Oh yes. I shall pay her four dollars a week, and if 
she got along with only a hundred a year, only think 
what she can do with that. I know Aunt Eunice, Uncle 
Henry's wife, hasn't a good dress, either. I think I 
shall buy a brown satin for her." 

"How awful good you are, sister!" said little Evelyn, 
and Maria quite agreed with her. The conviction of 
her own goodness, and her forthcoming power to exercise 



it, filled her soul with a gentle, stimulating warmth after 
she was in bed. The moonlight shone brightly into her 
room. She gazed at the bright shaft of silver it made 
across all her familiar possessions, and, notwithstanding 
her young girl dreams were gone, she realized that, al- 
though she had lost all the usual celestial dreams and 
rafters of romance which go to make a young girl's air- 
castle, she had still left some material, even if of less 

She spent, on the whole, a very happy summer. Her 
father looked entirely well ; she was busy in preparations 
for her life in Amity; and, what relieved her the most, 
Wollaston Lee was not at home for more than five days 
during the entire vacation. He went camping-out with 
a party of college-boys. Maria was, therefore, not sub- 
jected to the nervous strain of seeing him. During the 
few days he was at home he had his chum with him, and 
Maria only saw him twice — once on the street, when she 
returned his bow distantly and heard with no pleasure 
the other boy ask who that pretty girl was, and once 
in church. She gave only the merest side-glance at 
him in church, and she was not sure that he looked at 
her at all, but she went home pale and nervous. A se- 
cret of any kind is a hard thing for a girl to bear about 
with her, and Maria's, which was both tragic and absurd, 
was severer than most. At times it seemed to her, when 
she looked in her glass, that all she saw was the secret; 
it seemed to her, when other people looked at her, that 
it was all they saw. It was one reason for her readiness 
to go to Amity. She would there be out of reach of 
people who could in any way have penetrated her 
secret. She would not run the risk of meeting Wollas- 
ton; of meeting his father and mother, and wondering 
if he had, after all, told; of meeting Gladys Mann, and 
wondering if she had told, and knowing that she knew. 

Maria, in these last months, saw very little of Gladys, 


who had sunken entirely into the lower stratum of 
society in which she belonged. Gladys had left school, 
where she had not learned much, and she went out clean- 
ing and doing house-work, at seventy-five cents a day. 
Sometimes Maria met her going to and fro from a place 
of employment, and at such times there was fear in 
Maria's face and a pathetic admiration and reassurance 
in the other girl's. Gladys had grown hard and large 
as to her bones and muscles, but she did not look alto- 
gether well. She had a half-nourished, spiritually and 
bodily, expression, which did not belie the true state 
of affairs with her. She had neither enough meat nor 
enough ideality. She was suffering, and the more be- 
cause she did not know. Gladys was of the opinion that 
she was, on the whole, enjoying life and having a pretty 
good time. She earned enough to buy herself some 
showy clothes, and she had a lover, a " steady," as she 
called him. It is true that she was at times a little har- 
assed by jealousy concerning another girl who had a 
more fully blown beauty than she, and upon whom she 
sometimes suspected her lover was casting admiring 

It was at this time that Gladys, whose whole literature 
consisted of the more pictorial of the daily papers, wrote 
some badly spelled and very pathetic little letters, ask- 
ing advice as to whether a girl of her age, who had 
been keeping steady company with a young man of her 
lover's age, whom she dearly loved, should make ad- 
vances if he seemed to exhibit a preference for another 
girl, and she inquired pitifully of the editor, as of some 
deity, as to whether she thought her lover did really 
prefer the other girl to her. These letters, and the 
answers, were a source of immense comfort to Gladys. 
Sometimes, when she met Maria, they made her feel 
almost on terms of equality with her. She doubted if 
Maria, smart as she was, had ever really appeared in the 



papers. She wrote her letters under different names, 
and even sent them from neighboring towns, and walked 
long distances, when she felt that she wanted to save 
car-fare, to post them. Once Maria met her as she was 
walking along with an evening paper in her hand, read- 
ing the reply to one of her letters, and Maria wondered 
at the expression on Gladys's face. She at once pitied, 
feared, and detested Gladys. She doubted if she were 
a good girl; she herself, like a nun without even dreams, 
seemed living in another sphere, she felt so far removed. 
She was in reality removed, although Gladys, if the truth 
were told, was not so bad, and she got some good advice 
from the answers in response to her letters, which re- 
strained her. Still, her view of everything was different. 
She was different. Black was not as black to her as to 
Maria ; a spade was not so truly a spade. She recognized 
immorality as a fact, but it did not seem to her of so 
much importance. In one sense she was more innocent 
even than Maria, for she had never felt the true living 
clutch of vice on her soul, even in imagination; she 
could not. The devil to her was not of enough conse- 
quence to enable her to sin in the truest sense of the 
word. All her family were immoral, and a constant 
living in an atmosphere of immorality may, in one sense, 
make one incapable of spiritual sin. One needs to fully 
sense a sin in order to actually commit it. Gladys could 
hardly sense sin as Maria could. Still she had a sense 
of proud virtue after reading the paragraphs of good 
advice in reply to her letters to the paper, and she felt 
that it placed her nearer Maria's level. On the occasion 
when Maria met her reading the paper, she even spoke. 
" Hullo, M'ria!" said she. 

"Good-evening," Maria replied, politely and haugh- 

But Gladys did not seem to notice the haughtiness. 
She pressed close to Maria. 



"Say!" said she. 
"What?" asked Maria. 
"Ain't you ever goin' to — ?" 

"No, I am not," replied Maria, deadly pale, and 
trembling from head to foot. 

"Why don't you write to this paper and ask what 
you had better do?" said Gladys. "It's an awful good 
plan. You do git awful good advice." 

"I don't wish to," replied Maria, trying to pass, but 
Gladys stood in her way. 

"But say, M'ria, you be in an awful box," said she. 
"You can't never marry nobody else without you get 
locked up, you know." 

"I don't want to," Maria said, shortly. 

"Mebbe you will." 

" I never shall." 

"Well, if you do, you had better write to this paper, 
then you can find out just what to do. It won't tell 
you to do nothin' wrong, and it's awful sensible. Say, 

"Well, what?" 

"I 'ain't never told a living soul, and I never shall, 
but I don't see what you are goin' to do if either you 
or him wants to git married to anybody else." 

"I am not worrying about getting married," said 
Maria. This time she pushed past Gladys. Her knees 
fairly knocked together. 

Gladys looked at her with sympathy and the old little- 
girl love and adoration. "Well, don't you worry about 
me tellin'," said she. 


Maria began her teaching on a September day. It 
was raining hard, but there was all about an odd, ficti- 
tious golden light from the spray of maple-leaves which 
overhung the village. Amity was a typical little New 
England village — that is, it had departed but little from 
its original type, although there was now a large plant of 
paper-mills, which had called in outsiders. The outsiders 
were established by themselves on a sort of Tom Tidler's 
ground called ' ' Across the River." The river was little 
more than a brook, except in spring, when, after heavy 
snows, it sometimes verified its name of the Ramsey 
River. Ramsey was an old family name in Amity, as 
Edgham was in Edgham. Once, indeed, the little vil- 
lage had been called Ramsey Four Corners. Then the 
old Ramsey family waned and grew less in popular 
esteem, and one day the question of the appropriateness 
of naming the village after them came up. There was 
another old family, by the name of Saunders, between 
whom and the Ramseys had always been a dignified 
New England feud. The Saunders had held their own 
much better than the Ramseys. There was one branch 
especially, to which Judge Josiah Saunders belonged, 
which was still notable. Judge Josiah had served in 
the State legislature, he was a judge of the superior 
court, and he occupied the best house in Amity, a fine 
specimen of the old colonial mansion house, which had 
been in the Saunders family for generations. Judge 
Saunders had made additions to this old mansion, con- 
servative, modern colonial additions, and it was really 



a noble building. It was shortly after he had made the 
additions to his house, and had served his first term as 
judge of the superior court, that the question of chang- 
ing the name of the village from Ramsey Four Corners 
to Saunders had been broached. Meetings had been 
held, in which the name of our celebrated townsman, 
the Honorable Josiah Saunders, had been on every 
tongue. The Ramsey family obtained scant recognition 
for past merits, but a becoming silence had been main- 
tained as to their present status. The only recognized 
survivors of the old house of Ramsey at that time were 
the widow, Amelia Ramsey, the wife of Anderson Ram- 
sey, deceased, as she appeared in the minutes of the 
meetings, and her son George, a lad of sixteen, and the 
same who, in patched attire, had made love to Maria 
over the garden fence when she was a child. It was 
about that time that the meetings were taking place, 
and the name of the village had been changed to Amity. 
It had been held to be a happy, even a noble and gener- 
ous thought, on the part of Josiah Saunders. " Would 
that in such wise, by a combination of poetical aspira- 
tions and practical deeds, all differences might be ad- 
justed upon this globe/' said the Amity Argus, in an ac- 
count of the meeting. Thenceforth, Ramsey Four Corners 
became Amity, and the most genteel of the ladies had 
Amity engraved on their note-paper. 

Mrs. Amelia Ramsey and George, who had suffered 
somewhat in their feelings, in spite of the poetical ad- 
justment of the difference, had no note-paper. They 
were poor, else Amity might never have been. They 
lived in a house which had been, in its day, as pretentious 
as the Saunders mansion. At the time of Maria's first 
visit to Amity it had been a weather-beaten old struct- 
ure, which had not been painted for years, and had a 
curious effect as of a blur on the landscape, with its roof 
and walls of rain and sun stained shingles and clapboards, 



its leaning chimneys, and its Corinthian pillars widely 
out of the perpendicular, supporting crazily the roofs of 
the double veranda. When Maria went to Amity to begin 
teaching, the old house had undergone a transformation. 
She gazed at it with amazement out of the sitting-room 
window, which faced it, on the afternoon of her arrival. 

" Why, what has happened to the old Ramsey house ?" 
she asked her aunt Maria. 

"Well, in the first place, a cousin died and left 
them some money," replied Aunt Maria. "It was a 
matter of ten thousand dollars. Then Amelia and 
George went right to work and fixed up the house. It 
was none of my business, but it seemed dreadful silly 
to me. If I had been in their place, I'd have let that 
old ramshackle of a place go to pot and bought a nice 
little new house. There was one they could have got 
for fifteen hundred dollars, on this side of the river; but 
no, they went to work, and they must have laid out 
three thousand clear on that old thing." 

"It is beautiful!" said Maria, regarding it with ad- 

" Well, I don't think it's very beautiful, but everybody 
to their liking," replied Aunt Maria, with a sniff of her 
high, transparent nostrils. "For my part, I'd rather 
have a little, clean new house before all the old ones, 
that folks have died in and worried in, in creation." 

But Maria continued to regard the renovated Ramsey 
house with admiration. It stood close to the street, as 
is the case with so many old houses in rural New Eng- 
land. It had a tiny brick strip of yard in front, on 
which was set, on either side of the stoop, a great cen- 
tury-plant in a pot. Above them rose a curving flight 
of steps to a broad veranda, supported with Corinthian 
pillars, which were now upright and glistening with 
white paint, as was the entire house. 

"They had it all fixed up, inside and out," said Aunt 


Maria. "There wasn't a room but was painted and 
papered, and a good many had to be plastered. They 
did not get much new furniture, though. I should have 
thought they'd wanted to. All they've got is awful old. 
But I heard George Ramsey say he wouldn't swap one 
of those old mahogany pieces for the best new thing to 
be bought. Well, everybody to their taste. If I had 
had my house all fixed up that way, I should have want- 
ed new furniture to correspond." 

"What is George Ramsey doing?" asked Maria, with 
a little, conscious blush of which she was ashamed. 
Maria, all her life, would blush because people expected 
it of her. She knew as plainly as if she had spoken, 
that her aunt Maria was considering suddenly the ad- 
vantages of a possible match between herself and George 
Ramsey. What Aunt Maria said immediately confirmed 
this opinion. She spoke with a sort of chary praise of 
George. Aunt Maria had in reality never liked the 
Ramseys; she considered that they felt above her, and 
for no good reason; still, she had an eye for the main 
chance. It flashed swiftly across her mind that her 
niece was pretty, and George might lose his heart to her 
and marry her, and then Mrs. Amelia Ramsey might 
have to treat her like an equal and no longer hold her 
old, aristocratic head so high. 

"Well," said she, "I suppose George Ramsey is pretty 
smart. They say he is. I guess he favors his grand- 
father. His father wasn't any too bright, if he was a 
Ramsey. George Ramsey, they say, worked his way 
through college, used to be bell-boy or waiter or some- 
thing in a hotel summers, unbeknown to his mother. 
Amelia Ramsey would have had a conniption fit if she 
had known that her precious boy was working out. 
She used to talk as grand as you please about George's 
being away on his vacation. Maybe she did know, but 
if she did she never let on. I don't know as she let on 
16 231 


even to herself. Amelia Ramsey is one of the kind who 
can shut their eyes even when they look at themselves. 
There never was a lookin'-glass made that could show 
Amelia Ramsey anything she didn't want to see. I 
never had any patience with her. I believe in being 
proud if you've got anything to be proud of, but I don't 
see any sense in it otherwise. Anyhow, I guess George 
is doing pretty well. A distant relation of his mother, 
an Allen, not a Ramsey, got a place in a bank for him, 
they say, and he gets good pay. I heard it was three 
thousand a year, but I don't believe it. He ain't much 
over twenty, and it ain't likely. I don't know jest how 
old he is. He's some older than you." 

"He's a good deal older than I," said Maria, remem- 
bering sundry confidences with the tall, lanky boy over 
the garden fence. 

"Well, I don't know but he is," said Aunt Maria, 
"but I don't believe he gets three thousand a year, 

The next morning Maria, on her way to school in the 
rain, passing under the unconquerable golden glow of 
the maples, cast a surreptitious glance at the old Ram- 
sey house as she passed. It had been wonderfully 
changed for the better. Even the garden at the side 
next her aunt's house was no longer a weedy enclosure, 
but displayed an array of hardy flowers which the frost 
had not yet affected. Marigolds tossed their golden 
and russet balls through the misty wind of the rain, 
princess-feathers waved bravely, and chrysanthemums 
showed in gorgeous clumps of rose and yellow and 
white. As she passed, a tidy maid emerged from the 
front door and began sweeping out the rain which had 
lodged in the old hollows of the stone stoop, worn 
by the steps of generations. The rain flew before 
her plying broom in a white foam. The maid wore a 
cap and a wide, white apron. Maria reflected that the 



Ramseys had indeed come into palmier days, since they 
kept a maid so attired. She thought of George Ramsey 
with his patched trousers, and again the old feeling of 
repulsion and wonder at herself that she could have had 
romantic dreams about him came over her. Maria felt 
unutterably old that morning, and yet she had a little, 
childish dread of her new duties. She was in reality 
afraid of the school-children, although she did not show 
it. She got through the day very creditably, although 
that night she was tired as she had never been in her 
life, and, curiously enough, her sense of smell seemed 
to be the most affected. Many of her pupils came from 
poor families, the families of operatives in the paper- 
mills, and their garments were shabby and unclean. 
Soaked with rain, they gave out pungent odors. Maria's 
sense of smell was very highly developed. It seemed 
to her that her very soul was permeated, her very 
thoughts and imagination, with the odor of damp, un- 
clean clothing, of draggled gowns and wraps and hats 
and wet leather. She could not eat her supper; she 
could not eat the luncheon which her aunt had put up 
for her, since the school being a mile away, it was too 
far to walk home for the noonday dinner in the 

"You 'ain't eat hardly a mite of luncheon," Aunt 
Maria said when she opened the box. 

"I did not feel very hungry," Maria replied, apolo- 

"If you don't eat, you'll never hold out school-teach- 
ing in the world," said Aunt Maria. 

She repeated it when Maria scarcely tasted her supper, 
although it was a nice one — cold ham, and scrambled 
eggs, scrambled with cream, and delicious slabs of layer- 
cake. "You'll never hold out in the world if you don't 
eat," said she. 

"To tell the truth," replied Maria, "I can smell those 


poor children's wet clothes so that it has taken away 
all my appetite." 

" Land! you'll have to get over that," said Aunt Maria. 

4 'It seems to me that everything smells and tastes of 
wet, dirty clothes and shoes," said Maria. 

" You'll have to learn not to be so particular," said 
Aunt Maria, and she spoke with the same affectionate 
severity that Maria remembered in her mother. 4 'Put 
it out of your mind," she added. 

"I can't," said Maria, and a qualm of nausea came 
over her. It was as if the damp, unclean garments and 
the wet shoes were pressed close under her nostrils. She 
looked pale. 

"Well, drink your tea, anyhow," said Aunt Maria, 
with a glance at her. 

After supper Aunt Maria, going into the other side of 
the house to borrow some yeast, said to her brother 
Henry that she did not believe that Maria would hold 
out to teach school. "She has come home sick on ac- 
count of the smells the very first day," said she, "and 
she hasn't eat her supper, and she scarcely touched her 

Henry Stillman laughed, a bitter, sardonic laugh 
which he had acquired of late years. "Oh, well, she will 
get used to it," he replied. "Don't you worry, Maria. 
She will get used to it. The smell of the poor is the 
smell of the world. Heaven itself must be full of it." 

His wife eyed him with a half -frightened air. "Why, 
don't talk so, Henry!" she said. 

Henry Stillman laughed, half sardonically, half ten- 
derly. "It is so, my dear," he said, "but don't you 
worry about it." 

In these days Henry Stillman, although always 
maintaining his gentle manner towards children and 
women, had become, in the depths of his long-suffer- 
ing heart, a rebel against fate. He had borne too 



long that burden which is the heaviest and most ig- 
noble in the world, the burden of a sense of injury. 
He knew that he was fitted for better things than he 
had. He thought that it was not his own personal 
fault that he did not have them, and his very soul was 
curdling with a conviction of wrong, both at the hands 
of men and God. In these days he ceased going to 
church. He watched his wife and sister set out every 
Sunday, and he stayed at home. He got a certain satis- 
faction out of that. All who realize an injury have an 
amount of childishness in acts of retaliation. He, Henry 
Stillman, actually had a conviction that he was showing 
recrimination and wounding fate, which had so injured 
him, if only with a pin-prick, by staying away from 
church. After Maria came to live with them, she, too, 
went to church, but he did not view her with the same 
sardonic air that he did the older women, who had re- 
mained true to their faith in the face of disaster. He 
looked at Maria, in her pretty little best gowns and hats, 
setting forth, and a sweet tenderness for her love of God 
and belief sweetened his own agnosticism. He would 
not for the world have said a word to weaken the girl's 
faith nor to have kept her away from church. He 
would have urged her to go had she manifested the 
slightest inclination to remain at home. He was in a 
manner jealous of the girl's losing what he had himself 
lost. He tried to refrain from airing his morbid, bitter 
views of life to his wife, but once in a while he could 
not restrain himself as now. However, he laughed so 
naturally, and asked Maria, who presently came in, how 
many pupils had been present, and how she liked school- 
teaching, that his wife began to think that he had not 
been in earnest. 

"They are such poor, dirty little things," Maria said, 
"and their clothes were wet, and — and — " A look of 
nausea overspread her face. 



" You will get used to that," said her uncle, laughing 
pleasantly. " Eunice, haven't we got some cologne 

Eunice got a bottle of cologne, which was seldom used, 
being a luxury, from a closet in the sitting-room, and 
put some on Maria's handkerchief. "You won't think 
anything about it after a little," said she, echoing her 

"I suppose the scholars in Lowe Academy were a 
different class," said Aunt Maria, who had seated herself 
as primly as ever, with her hands crossed but not touch- 
ing the lap of her black gown. The folds of the skirt 
were carefully arranged, and she did not move after 
having once seated herself, for fear of creasing it. 

"They were clean, at least," said Maria, with a little 
grimace of disgust. "It does seem as if people might 
be clean, if they are poor." 

" Some folks here are too poor to buy soap and wash- 
cloths and towels," her uncle said, still not bitterly. 
"You must take that into account, Maria. It takes a 
little extra money even to keep clean ; people don't get 
that into their heads, generally speaking, but it is so." 

"Well, I haven't had much money," said Aunt Maria, 
"but I must say I have kept myself in soap and wash- 
rags and towels." 

"You might not have been able to if you had had 
half a dozen children and a drinking husband, or one 
who was out of work half the time," her brother said. 

An elderly blush spread over his sister's face. " Well, 
the Lord knows I'd rather have the soap and towels and 
wash -rags than a drunken husband and half a dozen 
dirty children," she retorted, sharply. 

" Lucky for you and the children that you have," said 
Henry. Then he turned again to his niece, of whom he 
was very fond. "It won't rain every day, dear," he 
said, "and the smells won't be so bad. Don't worry." 



Maria smiled back at him bravely. " I shall get used 
to it," she said, sniffing at the cologne, which was cheap 
and pretty bad. 

Maria was in reality dismayed. Her experience with 
children — that is, her personal experience — had been 
confined to her sister Evelyn. She compared dainty little 
Evelyn with the rough, uncouth, half-degenerates which 
she had encountered that morning, sitting before her 
with gaping mouths of stupidity or grins of impish 
impudence, in their soiled, damp clothing, and her heart 
sank. There was nothing in common except youth 
between these children, the offspring of ignorance and 
often drunken sensuality, and Evelyn. At first it seem- 
ed to her that there was absolutely no redeeming quality 
in the whole. However, the next morning the sun 
shone through the yellow maple boughs, and was re- 
flected from the golden carpet of leaves which the wind 
and rain of the day before had spread beneath. The 
children were dry ; some of them had become ingratiat- 
ing, even affectionate. She discovered that there were 
a number of pretty little girls and innocent, honest little 
boys, whose mothers had made pathetic attempts to 
send them clean and whole to school. She also dis- 
covered that some of them had reasonably quick intelli- 
gence, especially one girl, by name Jessy Ramsey. She 
was of a distant branch of the old Ramsey s, and had a 
high, spiritual forehead, from which the light hair was 
smoothly combed in damp ridges, and a delicate face 
with serious, intent blue eyes, under brows strangely 
pent for a child. Maria straightway took a fancy to 
Jessy Ramsey. When, on her way home at night, the 
child timidly followed in her wake, she reached out and 
grasped her tiny hand with a warm pressure. 

"You learned your lessons very well, Jessy," she said, 
and the child's face, as she looked up at her, grew posi- 
tively brilliant. 



When Maria got home she enthused about her. 
' 'There is one child in the school who is a wonder," 
said she. 

"Who?" asked Aunt Maria. She was in her heart 
an aristocrat. She considered the people of Amity — 
that is, the manufacturing people (she exempted her 
own brother as she might have exempted a prince 
of the blood drawn into an ignoble pursuit from dire 
necessity) — as distinctly below par. Maria's school was 
across the river. She regarded all the children below 
par. "I do wish you could have had a school this side 
of the river," she added, "but Miss Norcross has held 
the other ten years, and I don't believe she will ever 
get married, she is so mortal homely, and they like her. 
Who is the child you are talking about?" 

"Her name is Ramsey, Jessy Ramsey." 

Aunt Maria sniffed. "Oh!" said she. "She belongs 
to that Eugene Ramsey tribe." 

"Any relation to the Ramsey s next door?" asked 

"About a tenth cousin, I guess," replied Aunt Maria. 
"There was a Eugene Ramsey did something awful 
years ago, before I was born, and he got into state- 
prison, and then when he came out he married as low 
as he could. They have never had anything to do with 
these Ramseys. They are just as low as they can be — 
always have been." 

"This little girl is pretty, and bright," said Maria. 

Aunt Maria sniffed again. "Well, you'll see how 
she'll turn out," she said. "Never yet anything good 
came of that Eugene Ramsey tribe. That child's father 
drinks like a fish, and he's been in prison, and her 
mother's no better than she should be, and she's got a 
sister that everybody talks about — has ever since she 
was so high." 

"This seems like a good little girl," said Maria. 


" Wait and see," said Aunt Maria. 

But for all that Maria felt herself drawn towards this 
poor little offspring of the degenerate branch of the 
Ramsey s. There was something about the child's deli- 
cate, intellectual, fairly noble cast of countenance which 
at once aroused her affection and pity. It was in De- 
cember, on a bitterly cold day, when Maria had been 
teaching in Amity some two months, when this affection 
and pity ripened into absolute fondness and protection. 
The children were out in the bare school-yard during 
the afternoon recess, when Maria, sitting huddled over 
the stove for warmth, heard such a clamor that she ran 
to the window. Out in the desolate yard, a parallelo- 
gram of frozen soil hedged in with a high board fence 
covered with grotesque, and even obscene, drawings of 
pupils who had from time to time reigned in district 
number six, was the little Ramsey girl, surrounded by a 
crowd of girls who were fairly yelping like little mongrel 
dogs. The boys' yard was on the other side of the fence, 
but in the fence was a knot-hole wherein was visible a 
keen boy-eye. One girl after another was engaged in 
pulling to the height of her knees Jessy Ramsey's poor, 
little, dirty frock, thereby disclosing her thin, naked legs, 
absolutely uncovered to the freezing blast. Maria rush- 
ed bareheaded out in the yard and thrust herself through 
the crowd of little girls. 

" Girls, what are you doing?" she asked, sternly. 

"Please, teacher, Jessy Ramsey, she 'ain't got nothin' 
at all on under her dress," piped one after another, in 
accusing tones ; then they yelped again. 

Tears of pity and rage sprang to Maria's eyes. She 
caught hold of the thin little shoulder, which was, be- 
yond doubt, covered by nothing except her frock, and 
turned furiously upon the other girls. 

"You ought to be ashamed of yourselves!" said she; 
"great girls like you making fun of this poor child!" 



"She had ought to be ashamed of herself goin' round 
so," retorted the biggest girl in school, Alice Sweet, 
looking boldly at Maria. "She ain't no better than her 
ma. My ma says so." 

" My ma says I mustn't go with her," said another 

"Both of you go straight into the school-house," said 
Maria, at a white heat of anger as she impelled poor 
little Jessy Ramsey out of the yard. 

"I don't care," said Alice Sweet, with quite audible 

The black eye at the knot-hole in the fence which 
separated the girls' yard from the boys' was replaced by 
a blue one. Maria's attention was attracted towards it 
by an audible titter from the other side. 

"Every one of you boys march straight into the 
school-house," she called. Then she led Jessy into a 
little room which was dedicated to the teacher's outside 
wraps. The room was little more than a closet, and 
very cold. Maria put her arm around Jessy and felt 
with horror the little, naked body under the poor frock. 

"For Heaven's sake, child, why are you out with so 
little on such a day as this?" she cried out. 

Jessy began to cry. She had heretofore maintained 
a sullen silence of depression under taunts, but a kind 
word w r as too much for her. 

"I 'ain't got no underclothes, teacher; I 'ain't, honest," 
she sobbed. "I'd outgrowed all my last year's ones, 
and Mamie she's got 'em; and my mother she 'ain't got 
no money to buy any more, and my father he's away 
on a drunk. I can't help it; I can't, honest, teacher." 

Maria gazed at the little thing in a sort of horror. 
"Do you mean to say that you have actually nothing 
to put on but your dress, Jessy Ramsey?" said she. 

"I can't help it, honest, teacher," sobbed Jessy Ram- 



Maria continued to gaze at her, then she led her into 
the school-room and rang the bell furiously. When the 
scholars were all in their places, she opened her lips to 
express her mind to them, but a second's reflection 
seemed to show her the futility of it. Instead, she 
called the geography class. 

After school that night, Maria, instead of going home, 
went straight to Jessy Ramsey's home, which was about 
half a mile from the school-house. She held Jessy, who 
wore a threadbare little cape over her frock, by the 
hand. Franky Ramsey and Mamie Ramsey, Jessy's 
younger brother and sister, tagged timidly behind her. 
Finally, Maria waited for them to come up with her, 
which they did with a cringing air. 

"I want to know," said Maria to Mamie, "if you are 
wearing all your sister's underclothes this winter?" 

Mamie whimpered a little as she replied. Mamie had 
a habitual whimper and a mean little face, with a wisp 
of flaxen hair tied with a dirty blue ribbon. 

"Yes, ma'am," she replied. "Jessy she growed so 
she couldn't git into 'em, and mummer — " 

The boy, who was very thin, almost to emaciation, 
and looked consumptive, but who was impishly pert, 
cut in. 

"I had to wear Jessy's shirts," he said. "Mamie 
she couldn't wear them 'ere." 

"So you haven't any flannel shirts?" Maria asked of 

"I'm wearin' mummer's," said Mamie. "Mummer's 
they shrunk so she couldn't wear 'em, and Jessy couldn't 

"What is your mother wearing?" asked Maria. 

"Mr. John Dorsey he bought her some new ones," 
replied Mamie, and a light of evil intelligence came into 
the mean little face. 

"Who is Mr. John Dorsey?" asked Maria. 



"Oh, he's to our house considerable," replied Mamie, 
still with that evil light, which grew almost confidential, 
upon her face. 

The boy chuckled a little and dug his toes into the 
frozen earth, then he whistled. 

The Ramsey house was the original old homestead 
of the family. It was unspeakably decrepit and fallen 
from a former high estate. The old house presented to 
Maria's fancy something in itself degraded and loath- 
some. It seemed to partake actually of the character 
of its inmates — to be stained and swollen and out of 
plumb with unmentionable sins of degeneration. It 
was a very poisonous fungus of a house, with blotches 
of paint here and there, with its front portico supported 
drunkenly on swaying pillars, with its roof hollowed 
about the chimney, with great stains here and there 
upon the walls, which seemed like stains of sin rather 
than of old rains. Maria marched straight to the house, 
leading Jessy, with Mamie and Franky at her heels. 
She knocked on the door; there was no bell, of course. 
But Franky pushed past her and opened the door, and 
sang out, in his raucous voice: 

"Hullo, mummer! Mummer!" 

Mamie echoed him in her equally raucous voice, full 
of dissonances. "Mummer! Mummer!" 

A woman, large and dirty, but rather showily clad, 
with a brave display of cheap jewelry, appeared in the 
doorway of a room on the right, from which also issued 
a warm, spirituous odor, mingled with onions and boiling 
meat. The woman, who had at one time been weakly 
pretty, and even now was not bad-looking, stared with 
a sort of vacant defiance at Maria. 

"It's teacher, mummer," volunteered Mamie. 

Franky chuckled again, and again whistled. Franky s 
chuckles and whistles were characteristic of him. He 
often disturbed the school in such fashion. 



Maria had a vision of a man in his shirt-sleeves, smok- 
ing beside a red-hot stove, on which boiled the meat and 
onions. She began at once upon her errand. 

1 'How do you do, Mrs. Ramsey?" said she. 

The woman mumbled something inarticulate and 
backed a little. The man in the room leaned forward 
and rolled bloodshot eyes at her. Maria began at once. 
She had much of her mother's spirit, which, when it was 
aroused, balked at nothing. She pointed at Jessy, then 
she extended her small index -finger severely at Mrs. 

" Mrs. Ramsey," said she, and she stood so straight 
that she looked much taller, her blue eyes flashed like 
steel at the slinking ones of the older woman, "I want 
to inquire why you sent this child to school such a day 
as this in such a condition?" 

Mrs. Ramsey again murmured something inarticulate 
and backed still farther. Maria followed her quite into 
the room. A look of insolent admiration became evi- 
dent in the bloodshot eyes of the man beside the stove. 
Maria had no false modesty when she was righteously 
incensed. She would have said just the same before 
a room full of men. 

4 'That child," she said, and she again pointed at Jessy, 
shivering in her little, scanty frock — "that child came 
to school to-day without any clothing under her dress; 
one of the coldest days of the year, too. I don't see 
what you are thinking of, you, her own mother, to let 
a child go out in such a condition! You ought to be 
ashamed of yourself!" 

Then the woman crimsoned with wrath and she found 
speech, the patois of New England, instead of New 
Jersey, to which Maria was accustomed, and which she 
understood. This woman, instead of half speaking, ran 
all her words together in a coarse, nasal monotone. 

"Hadn't nothin' to put on her," she said. "She'd 


outgrowed all she had, hadn't nothin\ mind your own 
business, go 'long home, where you b'long." 

Maria understood the last words, and she replied, 
fiercely, " I am not going home one step until you prom- 
ise me you'll get decent underwear for this child to wear 
to school," said she, "and that you won't allow her to 
go out-of-doors in this condition again. If you do, I'll 
have you arrested." 

The woman's face grew redder. She made a threaten- 
ing movement towards Maria, but the man beside the 
stove unexpectedly arose and slouched between them, 
grinning and feeling in his pocket, whence he withdrew 
two one-dollar notes. 

"Here," he said, in a growling voice, which was never- 
theless intended to be ingratiating. "Go 'n' buy the 
young one somethin' to go to school in. Don't yer 

Maria half extended her hand, then she drew it back. 
She looked at the man, who exhaled whiskey as a fungus 
an evil perfume. She glanced at Mrs. Ramsey. 

"Is this man your father?" she asked of Jessy. 

Immediately the boy burst into a peal of meaning 
laughter. The man himself chuckled, then looked grave, 
with an effort, as he stood extending the money. 

" Better take 'em an' buy the young one some clothes," 
he said. 

"Who is this man?" demanded Maria, severely, of the 
laughing boy. 

"It's Mr. John Dorsey," replied Franky. 

Then a light of the underneath evil fire of the world 
broke upon Maria's senses. She repelled the man 

"I don't want your money," said she. "But" — she 
turned to the woman — "if you send that child to school 
again, clothed as she is to-day, I will have you arrested. 
I mean it." With that she was gone, with a proud 



motion. Laughter rang out after her, also a scolding 
voice and an oath. She did not turn her head. She 
marched straight on out of the yard, to the street, and 

She could not eat her supper. She had a sick, shocked 

"What is the matter?'' her aunt Maria asked. "It's 
so cold you can't have been bothered with the smells 

"It's worse than smells," replied Maria. Then she 
told her story. 

Her aunt stared at her. " Good gracious! You didn't 
go to that awful house, a young girl like you?" she said, 
and her prim cheeks burned. "Why, that man's livin' 
right there with Mrs. Ramsey, and her husband winking 
at it! They are awful people!" 

"I would have gone anywhere to get that poor child 
clothed decently," said Maria. 

"But you wouldn't take his money!" 

"I rather guess I wouldn't!" 

"Well, I don't blame you, but I don't see what is 
going to be done." 

"I don't," said Maria, helplessly. She reflected how 
she had disposed already of her small stipend, and would 
not have any more for some time, and how her own 
clothing no more than sufficed for her. 

"I can't give her a thing," said Aunt Maria. "I'm 
wearin' flannels myself that are so patched there isn't 
much left of the first of 'em, and it's just so with the 
rest of my clothes. I'm wearin' a petticoat made out 
of a comfortable my mother made before Henry was 
married. It was quilted fine, and had a small pattern, 
if it is copperplate, but I don't darse hold my dress up 
only just so. I wouldn't have anybody know it for the 
world. And I know Eunice ain't much better off. 
They had that big doctor's bill, and I know she's patched 



and darned so she'd be ashamed of her life if she fell 
down on the ice and broke a bone. I tell you what it 
is, those other Ramseys ought to do something. I don't 
care if they are such distant relations, they ought to do 

After supper Maria and her aunt went into the other 
side of the house, and Aunt Maria, who had been waxing 
fairly explosive, told the tale of poor little Jessy Ramsey 
going to school with no undergarments. 

"It's a shame!" said Eunice, who was herself nervous 
and easily aroused to indignation. She sat up straight 
and the hollows on her thin cheeks blazed, and her thin 
New England mouth tightened. 

"George Ramsey ought to do something if he is earn- 
ing as much as they say he is," said Aunt Maria. 

"That is so," said Eunice. " It doesn't make any dif- 
ference if they are so distantly related. It is the same 
name and the same blood." 

Henry Stillman laughed his sardonic laugh. "You 
can't expect the flowers to look out for the weeds," he 
said. "George Ramsey and his mother are in full blos- 
som; they have fixed up their house and are holding up 
their heads. You can't expect them to look out for 
poor relations who have gone to the bad, and done worse 
— got too poor to buy clothes enough to keep warm." 

Maria suddenly sprang to her feet. "I know what I 
am going to do," she announced, with decision, and 
made for the door. 

"What on earth are you going to do?" asked her 
aunt Maria. 

"I am going straight in there, and I am going to tell 
them how that poor little thing came to school to-day, 
and tell them they ought to be ashamed of themselves." 

Before the others fairly realized what she was doing, 
Maria was out of the house, running across the little 
stretch which intervened. Her aunt Maria called after 



her, but she paid no attention. She was at that mo- 
ment ringing the Ramsey bell, with her pretty, uncov- 
ered hair tossing in the December wind. 

"She will catch her own death of cold," said Aunt 
Maria, "running out without anything on her head." 

"She will just get patronized for her pains, " said 
Eunice, who had a secret grudge against the Ramseys 
for their prosperity and their renovated house, a grudge 
which she had not ever owned to her inmost self, but 
which nevertheless existed. 

"She doesn't stop to think one minute; she's just like 
her father about that," said Aunt Maria. 

Henry Stillman said nothing. He took up his paper, 
which he had been reading when Maria and his sister 

Meantime, Maria was being ushered into the Ramsey 
house by a maid who wore a white cap. The first thing 
which she noticed as she entered the house was a strong 
fragrance of flowers. That redoubled her indignation. 

"These Ramseys can buy flowers in midwinter," she 
thought, "while their own flesh and blood go almost 

She entered the room in which the flowers were, a 
great bunch of pink carnations in a tall, green vase. 
The room was charming. It was not only luxurious, 
but gave evidences of superior qualities in its owners. 
It was empty when Maria entered, but soon Mrs. Ram- 
sey and her son came in. Maria recognized with a start 
her old acquaintance, or rather she did not recognize 
him. She would not have known him at all had she not 
seen him in his home. She had not seen him before, for 
he had been away ever since she had come to Amity. 
He had been West on business for his bank. Now he at 
once stepped forward and spoke to her. 

"You are my old friend, Miss Edgham, I think," he 
said. "Allow me to present my mother." 
17 247 


Maria bowed perforce before the very gentle little lady 
in a soft lavender cashmere, with her neck swathed in 
laces, but she did not accept the offered seat, and she 
utterly disregarded the glance of astonishment which 
both mother and son gave at her uncovered shoulders 
and head. Maria's impetuosity had come to her from 
two sides. When it was in flood, so to speak, nothing 
could stop it. 

"No, thank you, I can't sit down," she said. "I 
came on an errand. You are related, I believe, to the 
other Ramseys. The children go to my school. There 
are Mamie and Franky and Jessy." 

"We are very distantly related, and, on the whole, 
proud of the distance rather than the relationship," said 
George Ramsey, with a laugh. 

Then Maria turned fiercely upon him. "You ought 
to be ashamed of yourself," said she. 

The young man stared at her. 

Maria persisted. "Yes, you ought," she said. "I 
don't care how distant the relationship is, the same 
blood is in your veins, and you bear the same name." 

"Why, what is the matter?" asked George Ramsey, 
still in a puzzled, amused voice. 

Maria spoke out. "That poor little Jessy Ramsey," 
said she, "and she is the prettiest and brightest scholar 
I have, too, came to school to-day without a single 
stitch of clothing under her dress. It is a wonder she 
didn't die. I don't know but she will die, and if she 
does it will be your fault." 

George Ramsey's face suddenly sobered; his mother's 
flushed. She looked at him, then at Maria, almost with 
fright. She felt really afraid of this forcible girl, who 
was so very angry and so very pretty in her anger. 
Maria had never looked prettier than she did then, with 
her cheeks burning and her blue eyes flashing with 
indignation and defiance. 



"That is terrible, such a day as this," said George 

"Yes; I had no idea they were quite so badly off," 
murmured his mother. 

"You ought to have had some idea," flashed out 

"We had not, Miss Edgham," said George, gently. 
"You must remember how very distant the relationship 
is. I believe it begins with the fourth generation from 
myself. And there are other reasons — 11 

"There ought not to be other reasons," Maria said. 

Mrs. Ramsey looked with wonder and something like 
terror and aversion at this pretty, violent girl, who was 
espousing so vehemently, not to say rudely, the cause 
of the distant relatives of her husband's family. The 
son, however, continued to smile amusedly at Maria. 

"Won't you sit down, Miss Edgham?" he said. 

"Yes, won't you sit down?" his mother repeated, 

"No, thank you," said Maria. "I only came about 
this. I — I would do something for the poor little thing 
myself, but I haven't any money now, and Aunt Maria 
would, and Uncle Henry, and Aunt Eunice, but they — " 

All at once Maria, who was hardly more than a child 
herself, and who had been in reality frightfully wrought 
up over the piteous plight of the other child, lost control 
of herself. She began to cry. She put her handkerchief 
to her face and sobbed helplessly. 

"The poor little thing! oh, the poor little thing!" she 
panted, "with nobody in the world to do anything for 
her, and her own people so terribly wicked. I — can't 
bear it!" 

The first thing she knew, Maria was having a large, 
soft cloak folded around her, and somebody was leading 
her gently to the door. She heard a murmured good- 
night, to which she did not respond except by a sob, 



and was led, with her arm rather closely held, along the 
sidewalk to her own door. At the door George Ramsey 
took her hand, and she felt something pressed softly 
into it. 

4 'If you will please buy what the poor little thing 
needs to make her comfortable," he whispered. 

"Thank you," Maria replied, faintly. She began to 
be ashamed of her emotion. 

"You must not think that my mother and I were 
knowing to this," George Ramsey said. " We are really 
such very distant relations that the name alone is the 
only bond between us; still, on general principles, if 
the name had been different, I would do what I could. 
Such suffering is terrible. You must not think us hard- 
hearted, Miss Edgham." 

Maria looked up at the young fellow's face, upon 
which an electric light shone fully, and it was a good 
face to see. She could not at all reconcile it with her 
memory of the rather silly little boy with the patched 
trousers, with whom she had discoursed over the garden 
fence. This face was entirely masterly, dark and clean- 
cut, with fine eyes, and a distinctly sweet expression 
about the mouth which he had inherited from his 

"I suppose I was very foolish," Maria said, in a low 
voice. "I am afraid I was rude to your mother. I 
did not mean to be, but the poor little thing, and this 
bitter day, and I went home with her, and there was a 
dreadful man there who offered me money to buy things 
for her — " 

"I hope you did not take it," George Ramsey said, 

"I am glad of that. They are a bad lot. I don't 
know about this little girl. She may be a survival of the 
fittest, but take them all together they are a bad lot, if 



they are my relatives. Good-night, Miss Edgham, and 
I beg you not to distress yourself about it all." 

"I am very sorry if I was rude," Maria said, and she 
spoke like a little girl. 

" You were not rude at all," George responded, quick- 
ly. " You were only all worked up over such suffering, 
and it did you credit. You were not rude at all." He 
shook hands again with Maria. Then he asked if he 
might call and see her sometime. Maria said yes, and 
fled into the house. 

She went into her aunt Maria's side of the house, and 
ran straight up-stairs to her own room. Presently she 
heard doors opening and shutting and knew that her 
aunt was curiously following her from the other side. 
vShe came to Maria's door, which was locked. Aunt 
Maria was not surprised at that, as Maria always locked 
her door at night — she herself did the same. 

"Have you gone to bed?" called Aunt Maria. 

"Yes," replied Maria, who had, indeed, hurriedly 
hustled herself into bed. 

"Gone to bed early as this?" said Aunt Maria. 

"I am dreadfully tired," replied Maria. 

" Did they give you anything ? Why didn't you come 
into the other side and tell us about it?" 

"Mr. George Ramsey gave me ten dollars." 

"Gracious!" said Aunt Maria. 

Presently she spoke again. "What did they say?" 
she asked. 

"Not much of anything." 

"Gave you ten dollars?" said Aunt Maria. "Well, 
you can get enough to make her real comfortable with 
that. Didn't you get chilled through going over there 
without anything on?" 

"No," replied Maria, and as she spoke she realized, 
in the moonlit room, a mass of fur-lined cloak over a 
chair. She had forgotten to return it to George Ram- 



sey. "I had Mrs. Ramsey's cloak coming home," she 

"Well, I'm glad you did. It's awful early to go to 
bed. Don't you want something ?" 
"No, thank you." 

"Don't you want me to heat a soapstone and fetch 
it up to you?" 
"No, thank you." 

"Well, good-night," said Aunt Maria, in a puzzled 

"Good-night," said Maria. Then she heard her aunt 
go away. 

It was a long time before Maria went to sleep. She 
awoke about two o'clock in the morning and was con- 
scious of having been awakened by a strange odor, a 
combined odor of camphor and lavender, which came 
from Mrs. Ramsey's cloak. It disturbed her, although 
she could not tell why. Then all at once she saw, as 
plainly as if he were really in the room, George Ramsey's 
face. At first a shiver of delight came over her; then 
she shuddered. A horror, as of one under conviction of 
sin, came over her. It was as if she repelled an evil 
angel from her door, for she remembered all at once 
what had happened tp her, and that it was a sin for 
her even to dream of George Ramsey; and she had 
allowed him to come into her waking dreams. She got 
out of bed, took up the soft cloak, thrust it into her 
closet, and shut the door. Then she climbed shivering 
back into bed, and lay there in the moonlight, entangled 
in the mystery of life. 


The very next day, which was Saturday, and conse- 
quently a holiday, Maria went on the trolley to West- 
bridge, which was a provincial city about six miles from 
Amity. She proposed buying some clothing for Jessy 
Ramsey with the ten dollars which George Ramsey had 
given her. Her aunt Eunice accompanied her. 

" George Ramsey goes over to Westbridge on the 
trolley/' said Eunice, as they jolted along — the cars 
were very well equipped, but the road was rough — "and 
I shouldn't wonder if he was on our car coming back." 

Maria colored quickly and looked out of the window. 
The cars were constructed like those on steam railroads, 
with seats facing towards the front, and Maria's aunt 
had insisted upon her sitting next to the window because 
the view was in a measure new to her. She had not 
been over the road many times since she had come to 
Amity. She stared out at the trimly kept country road , 
lined with cheap Queen Anne houses and the older type 
of New England cottages and square frame houses, and 
it all looked strange to her after the red soil and the 
lapse towards Southern ease and shiftlessness of New 
Jersey. But nothing that she looked upon was as 
strange as the change in her own heart. Maria, from 
being of an emotional nature, had many times considered 
herself as being in love, young as she was, but this was 
different. When her aunt Eunice spoke of George Ram- 
sey she felt a rigid shiver from head to foot. It seemed 
to her that she could not see him nor speak to him, that 
she could not return to Amity on the same car. She 



made no reply at first to her aunt's remark, but finally 
she said, in a faint voice, that she supposed Mr. Ramsey 
came home after bank hours at three o'clock. 

' k He comes home a good deal later than that, as a 
general thing," said Eunice. "Oftener than not I see 
him get off the car at six o'clock. I guess he stays and 
works after bank hours. George Ramsey is a worker, 
if there ever was one. He's a real likely young man." 

Maria felt Eunice's eyes upon her, and realized that 
she was thinking, as her aunt Maria had done, that 
George Ramsey would be a good match for her. A sort 
of desperation seized upon her. 

" I don't know what you mean by likely," Maria said, 
impertinently, in her shame and defiance. 

" Don't know what I mean by likely?" 

" No, I don't. People in New Jersey don't say likely." 

" Why, I mean he is a good young man, and likely to 
turn out well," responded Eunice, rather helplessly. 
She was a very gentle woman, and had all her life been 
more or less intimidated by her husband's and sister-in- 
laws' more strenuous natures; and, if the truth were 
told, she stood in a little awe of this blooming young 
niece, with her self-possession and clothes of the New 
York fashion. 

" I don't see why he is more likely, as you call it, than 
any other young man," Maria returned, pitilessly. "I 
should call him a very ordinary young man." 

"He isn't called so generally," Eunice said, feebly. 

They were about half an hour reaching Westbridge. 
Eunice by that time had plucked up a little spirit. She 
reflected that Maria knew almost nothing about the 
shopping district, and she herself had shopped there all 
her life since she had been of shopping age. Eunice had 
a great respect for the Westbridge stores, and considered 
them distinctly superior to those of Boston. She was 
horrified when Maria observed, shortly before they got 



off the car, that she supposed they could have done 
much better in Boston. 

" I guess you will find that Adams & Wood's is as good 
a store as any you could go to in New York," said 
Eunice. "Then there is the Boston Store, too, and 
Collins & Green's. All of them are very good, and they 
have a good assortment. Hardly anybody in Amity 
goes anywhere else shopping, they think the Westbridge 
stores so much better." 

"Of course it is cheaper to come here," said Maria, 
as they got off the car in front of Adams & Wood's. 

" That isn't the reason," said Eunice, eagerly. "Why, 
Mrs. Judge Saunders buys 'most everything here; says 
she can do enough sight better than she can anywhere 

"If the dress Mrs. Saunders had on at the church 
supper was a sample, she dresses like a perfect guy," 
said Maria, as they entered the store, with its two pre- 
tentious show-windows filled with waxen ladies dressed 
in the height of the fashion, standing in the midst of 
symmetrically arranged handkerchiefs and rugs. 

Maria knew that she was even cruelly pert to her aunt, 
but she felt like stinging — like crowding some of the 
stings out of her own heart. She asked herself was ever 
any girl so horribly placed as she was, married, and not 
married ; and now she had seen some one else whom she 
must shun and try to hate, although she wished to love 
him. Maria felt instinctively, remembering the old 
scenes over the garden fence, and remembering how she 
herself had looked that very day as she started out, 
with her puffy blue velvet turban rising above the soft 
roll of her fair hair and her face blooming through a 
film of brown lace, and also remembering George Ram- 
sey's tone as he asked if he might call, that if she were 
free that things might happen with her as with other 
girls; that she and George Ramsey might love each 

2 55 


other, and become engaged; that she might save her 
school money for a trousseau, and by-and-by be married 
to a man of whom she should be very proud. The 
patches on George Ramsey's trousers became very 
dim to her. She admired him from the depths of her 

"I guess we had better look at flannels first," Eunice 
said. " It won't do to get all wool, aside from the expense, 
for with that Ramsey woman's washing it wouldn't last 
any time." 

She and her aunt made most of their purchases in 
Adams & Wood's. They succeeded in obtaining quite 
a comfortable little outfit for Jessy Ramsey, and at last 
boarded a car laden with packages. Eunice had a fish- 
net bag filled to overflowing, but Maria, who, coming 
from the vicinity of New York, looked down on bags, 
carried her parcels in her arms. 

Directly they were seated in the car Eunice gave 
Maria a violent nudge with her sharp elbow. "He's on 
this car," she whispered in her ear, with a long hiss which 
seemed to penetrate the girl's brain. 

Maria made an impatient movement. 

' ' Don't you think you ought to just step over and 
thank him?" whispered Eunice. "I'll hold your bun- 
dles. He's on the other side, a seat farther back. He 
raised his hat to me." 

' ' Hush! I can't here." 

"Well, all right, but I thought it would look sort of 
polite," said Eunice. Then she subsided. Once in a 
while she glanced back at George Ramsey, then uneasily 
at her niece, but she said nothing more. 

The car was crowded. Workmen smelling of leather 
clung to the straps. One, in the aisle next Maria, who 
sat on the outside this time, leaned fairly against her. 
He was a good-looking young fellow, but he had a heavy 
jaw. He held an unlighted pipe in his mouth, and car- 



ried a two-story tin dinner-pail. Maria kept shrinking 
closer to her aunt, but the young man pressed against 
her all the more heavily. His eyes were fixed with 
seeming unconsciousness ahead, but a furtive smile 
lurked around his mouth. 

George Ramsey was watching. All at once he arose 
and quietly and unobtrusively came forward, insinuated 
himself with a gentle force between Maria and the work- 
man, and spoke to her. The workman muttered some- 
thing under his breath, but moved aside. He gave an 
ugly glance at George, who did not seem to see him at 
all. Presently he sat down in George's vacated seat 
beside another man, who said something to him with a 
coarse chuckle. The man growled in response, and con- 
tinued to scowl furtively at George, who stood talking 
to Maria. He said something about the fineness of the 
day, and Maria responded rather gratefully. She was 
conscious of an inward tumult which alarmed her, and 
made her defiant both at the young man and herself, 
but she could not help responding to the sense of pro- 
tection which she got from his presence. She had not 
been accustomed to anything like the rudeness of the 
young workman. In New Jersey caste was more clearly 
defined. Here it was not defined at all. An employe 
in a shoe-factory had not the slightest conception that 
he was not the social equal of a school-teacher, and 
indeed in many cases he was. There were by no means 
all like this one, whose mere masculine estate filled him 
with entire self-confidence where women were concerned. 
In a sense his ignorance was pathetic. He had honestly 
thought that the pretty, strange girl must like his close 
contact, and he felt aggrieved that this other young 
man, who did not smell of leather and carried no dinner- 
pail, had ousted him. He viewed Maria's delicate pro- 
file with a sort of angry tenderness. 

"Say, she's a beaut, ain't she?" whispered the man 


beside him, with a malicious grin, and again got a surly- 
growl in response. 

Maria finally, much to her aunt's delight, said to 
George that they had been shopping, and thanked him 
for the articles which his money had enabled them to 

"The poor little thing can go to school now," said 
Maria. There was gratitude in her voice, and yet, oddly 
enough, still a tinge of reproach. 

"If mother and I had dreamed of the true state of 
affairs we would have done something before," George 
Ramsey said, with an accent of apology; and yet he 
could not see for the life of him why he should be 
apologetic for the poverty of these degenerate relatives 
of his. He could not see why he was called upon to be 
his brother's keeper in this case, but there was something 
about Maria's serious, accusing gaze of blue eyes, and 
her earnest voice, that made him realize that he could 
prostrate himself before her for uncommitted sins. 
Somehow, Maria made him feel responsible for all that 
he might have done wrong as well as his actual wrong- 
doing, although he laughed at himself for his mental 
attitude. Suddenly a thought struck him. " When are 
you going to take all these things (how you ever managed 
to get so much for ten dollars I don't understand) to the 
child?" he asked, eagerly. 

Maria replied, unguardedly, that she intended to take 
them after supper that night. "Then she will have 
them all ready for Monday," she said. 

"Then let me go with you and carry the parcels," 
George Ramsey said, eagerly. 

Maria stiffened. "Thank you," she said, "but Uncle 
Henry is going with me, and there is no need." 

Maria felt her aunt Eunice give a sudden start and 
make an inarticulate murmur of remonstrance, then she 
checked herself. Maria knew that her uncle walked a 



mile from his factory to save car-fare; she knew also 
that she was telling what was practically an untruth, 
since she had made no agreement with her uncle to 
accompany her. 

"I should be happy to go with you/' said George 
Ramsey, in a boyish, abashed voice. 

Maria said nothing more. She looked past her aunt 
out of the window. The full moon was rising, and all 
at once all the girl's sweet light of youthful romance 
appeared again above her mental horizon. She felt that 
it would be almost heaven to walk with George Ramsey 
in that delicious moonlight, in the clear, frosty air, and 
take little Jessy Ramsey her gifts. Maria was of an 
almost abnormal emotional nature, although there was 
little that was material about the emotion. She dream- 
ed of that walk as she might have dreamed of a walk 
with a fairy prince through fairy-land, and her dream 
was as innocent, but it unnerved her. She said again, 
in a tremulous voice, that she was very much obliged, 
and murmured something again about her uncle Henry ; 
and George Ramsey replied, with a certain sober dignity, 
that he should have been very happy. 

Soon after that the car stopped to let off some passen- 
gers, and George moved to a vacant seat in front. He 
did not turn around again. Maria looked at his square 
shoulders and again gazed past her aunt at the full orb 
of the moon rising with crystalline splendor in the pale 
amber of the east. There was a clear gold sunset which 
sent its reflection over the whole sky. 

Presently, Eunice spoke in her little, deprecating voice, 
which had a slight squeak. 

1 'Did you speak to your uncle Henry about going 
with you this evening?" she asked. 

"No, I didn't," admitted Maria, reddening, "but I 
knew he would be willing." 

"I suppose he will be," said Eunice. "But he does 


get home awful tuckered out Saturday nights, and he 
always takes his bath Saturday nights, too." 

Eunice looked out of the window w r ith a slight frown. 
She adored her husband, and the thought of that long 
walk for him on his weary Saturday evening, and the 
possible foregoing of his bath, troubled her. 

"I don't believe George Ramsey liked it," she whis- 
pered, after a little. 

" I can't help it if he didn't," replied Maria. " I can't 
go with him, Aunt Eunice." 

As they jolted along, Maria made up her mind that 
she would not ask her uncle to go with her at all; that 
she would slip out unknown to Aunt Maria and ask 
the girl who lived in the house on the other side, Lily 
Merrill, to go with her. She thought that two girls 
need not be afraid, and she could, start early. 

As she parted from her aunt Eunice at the door of 
the house, after they had left the car (Eunice's door was 
on the side where the Ramsays lived, and Maria's on 
the Merrill side), she told her of her resolution. 

" Don't say anything to Uncle Henry about going 
with me," said she. 

" Why, what are you going to do ?" 

"I'll get Lily Merrill. I know she won't mind." 

Maria and Lily Merrill had been together frequently 
since Maria had come to Amity, and Eunice accounted 
them as intimate. She looked hesitatingly a second at 
her niece, then she said, with an evident air of relief: 

" Well, I don't know but you can. It's bright moon- 
light, and it's late in the season for tramps. I don't see 
why you two girls can't go together, if you start early." 

"We'll start right after supper," said Maria. 

"I would," said Eunice, still with an air of relief. 

Maria took her aunt's fish-net bag, as well as her own 
parcels, and carried them around to her aunt Maria's 
side of the house, and deposited them on the door-step. 



There was a light in the kitchen, and she could see her 
aunt Maria's shadow moving behind the curtain, pre- 
paring supper. Then she ran across the yard, over the 
frozen furrows of a last year's garden, and knocked at 
the side-door of the Merrill house. 

Lily herself opened the door, and gave a little, loving 
cry of surprise. " Why, is it you, dear?" she said. 

"Yes. I want to know if you can go over the river 
with me to-night on an errand ?" 

" Over the river ? Where ?" 

"Oh, only to Jessy Ramsey's. Aunt Eunice and I 
have been to Westbridge and bought these things for 
her, and I want to carry them to her to-night. I thought 
maybe you would go with me." 

Lily hesitated. "It's a pretty lonesome walk," said 
she, "and there are an awful set of people on the other 
side of the river." 

"Oh, nonsense!" cried Maria. "You aren't afraid — 
we two together — and it's bright moonlight, as bright 
as day." 

"Yes, I know it is," replied Lily, gazing out at the 
silver light which flooded everything, but she still hesi- 
tated. A light in the house behind gave her a back- 
ground of light. She was a beautiful girl, prettier than 
Maria, taller, and with a timid, pliant grace. Her brown 
hair tossed softly over her big, brown eyes, which were 
surmounted by strongly curved eyebrows, her nose was 
small, and her mouth, and she had a fascinating little 
way of holding her lips slightly parted, as if ready for 
a loving word or a kiss. Everybody said that Lily 
Merrill had a beautiful disposition, albeit some claimed 
that she lacked force. Maria dominated her, although 
she did not herself know it. Lily continued to hesitate 
with her beautiful, startled brown eyes on Maria's face. 

"Aren't you afraid?" she said. 

"Afraid? No. What should I be afraid of ? Why, 


it's bright moonlight! I would just as soon go at night 
as in the daytime when the moon is bright." 

"That is an awful man who lives at the Ramsey s'!" 

"Nonsense! I guess if he tried to bother us, Mrs. 
Ramsey would take care of him," said Maria. "Come 
along, Lily. I would ask Uncle Henry, but it is the 
night when he takes his bath, and he comes home tired." 

"Well, I'll go if mother will let me," said Lily. 

Then Lily called to her mother, who came to the 
sitting-room door in response. 

"Mother," said Lily, "Maria wants me to go over to 
the Ramseys', those on the other side of the river, after 
supper, and carry these things to Jessy." 

"Aren't you afraid?" asked Lily's mother, as Lily 
herself had done. She was a faded but still pretty 
woman who had looked like her daughter in her youth. 
She was a widow with some property, enough for her 
Lily and herself to live on in comfort. 

"Why, it's bright moonlight, Mrs. Merrill," said Maria, 
"and the Ramseys live just the other side of the river." 

"Well, if Lily isn't afraid, I don't care," said Mrs. 
Merrill. She had an ulterior motive for her consent, of 
which neither of the two girls suspected her. She was 
smartly dressed, and her hair was carefully crimped, and 
she had, as always in the evening, hopes that a certain 
widower, the resident physician of Amity, Dr. Ell- 
ridge, might call. He had noticed her several times at 
church suppers, and once had walked home with her 
from an evening meeting. Lily never dreamed that her 
mother had aspirations towards a second husband. Her 
father had been dead ten years ; the possibility of any one 
in his place had never occurred to her; then, too, she 
looked upon her mother as entirely too old for thoughts 
of that kind. But Mrs. Merrill had her own views, which 
she kept concealed behind her pretty, placid exterior. 
She always welcomed the opportunity of being left 



alone of an evening, because she realized the very serious 
drawback that the persistent presence of a pretty, well- 
grown daughter might be if a wooer would wish to woo. 
She knew perfectly well that if Dr. Ellridge called, 
Lily would wonder why he called, and would sit all the 
evening in the same room with her fancy-work, entirely 
unsuspicious. Lily might even think he came to see 
her. Mrs. Merrill had a measure of slyness and secrecy 
which her daughter did not inherit. Lily was not brill- 
iant, but she was as entirely sweet and open as the 
flower for which she was named. She was emotional, 
too, with an innocent emotionlessness, and very affec- 
tionate. Mrs. Merrill made almost no objection to Lily's 
going with Maria, but merely told her to wrap up warmly 
when she went out. Lily looked charming, with a great 
fur boa around her long, slender throat, and red velvet 
roses nestling under the brim of her black hat against 
the soft puff of her brown hair. She bent over her 
mother and kissed her. 

"I hope you won't be very lonesome, mother dear," 
she said. 

Mrs. Merrill blushed a little. To-night she had con- 
fident hopes of the doctor's calling; she had ^ven re- 
solved upon a coup. " Oh no, I shall not be lonesome," 
she replied. " Norah isn't going out, you know." 

"We shall not be gone long, anyway," Lily said, as 
she went out. She had not even noticed her mother's 
blush. She was not very acute. She ran across the 
yard, the dry grass of which shone like a carpet of crisp 
silver in the moonlight, and knocked on Maria's door. 
Maria answered her knock. She was all ready, and she 
had her aunt Eunice's fish -net bag and her armful of 

" Here, let me take some of them, dear," said Lily, in 
her cooing voice, and she gathered up some of the par- 
cels under her long, supple arm. 
18 263 


Maria's aunt Maria followed her to the door. "Now, 
mind you don't go into that house," said she. "Just 
leave the things and run right home ; and if you see any- 
body who looks suspicious, go right up to a house and 
knock. I don't feel any too safe about you two girls 
going, anyway." 

Aunt Maria spoke in a harsh, croaking voice; she had 
a cold. Maria seized her by the shoulders and pushed 
her back, laughingly. 

"You go straight in the house," said she. " And don't 
you worry. Lily and I both have hat-pins, and we can 
both run, and there's nothing to be afraid of, anyway." 

" Well, I don't half like the idea," croaked Aunt Maria, 

Lily and Maria went on their way. Lily looked affec- 
tionately at her companion, whose pretty face gained a 
singular purity of beauty from the moonlight. 

"How good you are, dear," she said. 

" Nonsense!" replied Maria. Somehow all at once the 
consciousness of her secret, which was always with her, 
like some hidden wound, stung her anew. She thought 
suddenly how Lily would not think her good at all if 
she knew what an enormous secret she was hiding from 
her, of what duplicity she was guilty. 

"Yes, you are good," said Lily, "to take all this 
trouble to get that poor little thing clothes." 

"Oh, as for that," said Maria, "Mr. George Ramsey 
is the one to be thanked. It was his money that bought 
the things, you know." 

" He is good, too," said Lily, and her voice was like a 
song with cadences of tenderness. 

Maria started and glanced at her, then looked away 
again. A qualm of jealousy, of which she was ashamed, 
seized her. She gave her head a toss, and repeated, 
with a sort of defiance, "Yes, he is good enough, I sup- 



"I think you are real sweet," said Lily, "and I do 
think George Ramsey is splendid." 

"I don't see anything very remarkable about him," 
said Maria. 

" Don't you think he is handsome ?" 

"I don't know. I don't suppose I ever think much 
about a man being handsome. I don't like handsome 
men, anyway. I don't like men, anyway, when it comes 
to that." 

"George Ramsey is very nice," said Lily, and there 
was an accent in her speech which made the other girl 
glance at her. Lily's face was turned aside, although 
she was clinging close to Maria's arm, for she was in re- 
ality afraid of being out in the night with another girl. 

They walked along in silence after that. When they 
came to the covered bridge which crossed the river, Lily 
forced Maria into a run until they reached the other side. 

"It is awful in here," she said, in a fearful whisper. 

Maria laughed. She herself did not feel the least fear, 
although she was more imaginative than the other girl. 
At that time a kind of rage against life itself possessed 
her which made her insensible to ordinary fear. She 
felt that she had been hardly used, and she was, in a 
measure, at bay. She knew that she could fight any- 
thing until she died, and beyond that there was nothing 
certainly to fear. She had become abnormal because of 
her strained situation as regarded society. However, 
she ran because Lily wished her to do so, and they soon 
emerged from the dusty tunnel of the bridge, with its 
strong odor of horses, and glimpses between the sides of 
the silver current of the river, into the moon-flooded 

After the bridge came the school-house, then, a half- 
mile beyond that, the Ramsey house. The front win- 
dows were blazing with light, and the sound of a loud, 
drunken voice came from within. 



Lily shrank and clung closely to Maria. 

"Oh, Maria, I am awfully afraid to go to the door," 
she whispered. " Just hear that. Eugene Ramsey must 
be home drunk, and — and perhaps the other man, too. 
I am afraid. Don't let's go there." 

Maria looked about her. "You see that board fence, 
then?" she said to Lily, and as she spoke she pointed to 
a high board fence on the other side of the street, which 
was completely in shadow. 


"Well, if you are afraid, just go and stand straight 
against the fence. You will be in shadow, and if you 
don't move nobody can possibly see you. Then I will 
go to the door and leave the things." 

"Oh, Maria, aren't you afraid?" 

"No, I am not a bit afraid." 

"You won't go in, honest?" 

"No, I won't go in. Run right over there." 

Lily released her hold of Maria's arm and made a 
fluttering break for the fence, against which she shrank 
and became actually invisible as a shadow. Maria 
marched up to the Ramsey door and knocked loudly. 
Mrs. Ramsey came to the door, and Maria thrust the 
parcels into her hands and began pulling them rapidly 
out of the fish-net bag. Mrs. Ramsey cast a glance 
behind her at the lighted room, through which was 
visible the same man whom Maria had seen before, and 
also another, and swung the door rapidly together, so 
that she stood in the dark entry, only partly lighted 
by the moonlight. 

"I have brought some things for Jessy to wear to 
school, Mrs. Ramsey," said Maria. 

"Thank you," Mrs. Ramsey mumbled, doubtfully, 
with still another glance at the closed door, through 
which shone lines and chinks of light. 

"There are enough for her to be warmly clothed, and 


you will see to it that she has them on, won't you?" 
said Maria. Her voice was quite sweet and ingrati- 
ating, and not at all patronizing. 

Suddenly the woman made a clutch at her arm. "You 
are a good young one, doin' so much for my young 
one," she whispered. " Now you'd better git up and git. 
They've been drinkin'. Git!" 

"You will see that Jessy has the things to wear Mon- 
day, won't you?" said Maria. 

"Sure." Suddenly the woman wiped her eyes and 
gave a maudlin sob. "You're a good young one," she 
w T himpered. "Now, git." 

Maria ran across the road as the door closed after her. 
She did not know that Mrs. Ramsey had given the par- 
cels which she had brought a toss into another room, 
and when she entered the room in which the men were 
carousing and was asked who had come to the door, 
had replied, "The butcher for his bill," to be greeted 
with roars of laughter. She did, indeed, hear the roars 
of laughter. Lily slunk along swiftly beside the fence 
by her side. Maria caught her by the arm. Curiously 
enough, while she was not afraid for herself, she did feel 
a little fear now for her companion. The two girls hur- 
ried until they reached the bridge, and ran the whole 
length. On the other side, coming into the lighted 
main street of Amity, they felt quite safe. 

"Did you see any of those dreadful men?" gasped 

"I just caught a glimpse of them, then Mrs. Ramsey 
shut the door," said Maria. 

"They were drunk, weren't they?" 
"I shouldn't wonder." 

V I do think it was an awful place to go to," said Lily, 
with a little sigh of relief that she was out of it. 

The girls went along the street until they reached the 
Ramsey house, next the one where Maria lived. Sud- 



denly a man's figure appeared from the gate. It was 
almost as if he had been watching. 

" Good-evening," he said, and the girls saw that he 
was George Ramsey. 

' ' Good-evening, Mr. Ramsey," responded Maria. She 
felt Lily's arm tremble in hers. George walked along 
with them. "I have been to carry the presents which 
I bought with your money," said Maria. 

"Good heavens! You don't mean that you two girls 
have been all alone up there?" said George. 

"Why, yes," said Maria. "Why not?" 

"Weren't you afraid?" 

"Maria isn't afraid of anything," Lily's sweet, little, 
tremulous voice piped on the other side. 

George was walking next Maria. There was a slight 
and very gentle accusation in the voice. 

"It wasn't safe," said George, soberly, "and I should 
have been glad to go with you." 

Maria laughed. "Well, here we are, safe and sound," 
she said. "I didn't see anything to be much afraid 

"All the same, they are an awful set there," said 
George. They had reached Maria's door, and he added, 
"Suppose you walk along with me, Miss Edgham, and 
I will see Lily home." George had been to school with 
Lily, and had always called her by her first name. 

Maria again felt that little tremor of Lily's arm in hers, 
and did not understand it. "All right," she said. 

The three walked to Lily's door, and had said good- 
night, when Lily, who was, after all, the daughter of her 
mother, although her little artifices were few and inno- 
cent, had an inspiration. She discovered that she had 
lost her handkerchief. 

"I think I took it out when we reached your gate, Mr. 
Ramsey," she said, timidly, for she felt guilty. 

It was quite true that the handkerchief was not in her 


muff, in which she had carried it, but there was a pocket 
in her coat which she did not investigate. 

They turned back, looking along the frozen ground. 

"Never mind," Lily said, cheerfully, when they had 
reached the Ramsey gate and returned to the Edgham's, 
and the handkerchief was not forthcoming, "it was an 
old one, anyway. Good-night. " 

She knew quite well that George Edgham would do 
what he did — walk home with her the few steps between 
her house and Maria's, and that Maria would not hesi- 
tate to say good-night and enter her own door. 

" I guess I had better go right in," said Maria. " Aunt 
Maria has a cold, and she may worry and be staying 

Lily was entirely happy at walking those few steps 
with George Ramsey. He had pulled her little hand 
through his arm in a school-boy sort of fashion. He left 
her at the door with a friendly good-night, but she had 
got what she wanted. He had not gone those few steps 
alone with Maria. Lily loved Maria, but she did not 
want George Ramsey to love her. 

When Lily entered the house, to her great astonish- 
ment she found Dr. Ellridge there. He was seated be- 
side her mother, who was lying on the sofa. 

"Why, mother, what is it — are you sick?" Lily cried, 
anxiously, while the doctor looked with admiration at 
her face, glowing with the cold. 

" I had one of my attacks after supper, and sent Norah 
for Dr. Ellridge. I thought I had better," Mrs. Merrill 
explained, feebly. She sighed and looked at the doctor, 
who understood perfectly, but did not betray himself. 
He was, in fact, rather flattered. 

"Yes, your mother has been feeling quite badly, but 
she will be all right now," he said to Lily. 

"I am sorry you did not feel well, mother, " Lily said, 
sweetly. Then she got her fancy -work from her little 



silk bag on the table and seated herself, after removing 
her wraps. 

Her mother sighed. The doctor's mouth assumed a 
little, humorous pucker. 

Lily looked at her mother with affectionate interest. 
She was quite accustomed to slight attacks of indiges- 
tion which her mother often had, and was not much 
alarmed, still she felt a little anxious. "You are 'sure 
you are better, mother ?" she said. 

"Oh yes, she is much better, " the doctor answered 
for her. "There is nothing for you to be alarmed 

"I am so glad," said Lily. 

She took another stitch in her fancy-work, and her 
beautiful face took on an almost seraphic expression; 
she was thinking of George Ramsey. She hardly noticed 
when the doctor took his leave, and she did not in the 
least understand her mother's sigh when the door closed. 
For her the gates of love were wide open, but she had no 
conception that for her mother they were not shut until 
she should go to heaven to join her father. 


The next evening Maria, as usual, went to church 
with her two aunts. Henry Stillman remained at home 
reading the Sunday paper. He took a certain delight 
in so doing, although he knew, in the depths of his soul, 
that his delight was absurd. He knew perfectly well 
that it did not make a feather's weight of difference in 
the universal scheme of things that he, Henry Stillman, 
should remain at home and read the columns of scandal 
and politics in that paper, instead of going to church, 
and yet he liked to think that his small individuality 
and its revolt because of its injuries at the hands of fate 
had its weight, and was at least a small sting of revenge. 

He watched his wife adjust her bonnet before the 
looking-glass in the sitting-room, and arrange carefully 
the bow beneath her withered chin, and a great pity for 
her, because she was no longer as she had been, but was 
so heavily marked by time, and a great jealousy that 
she should not lose the greatest of all things, which he 
himself had lost, came over him. As she — a little, prim, 
mild woman, in her old-fashioned winter cape and her 
bonnet, with its stiff tuft of velvet pansies — passed him, 
he caught her thin, black -gloved hand and drew her 
close to him. 

"I'm glad you are going to church, Eunice, " he said. 

Eunice colored, and regarded him with a kind of 
abashed wonder. 

" Why don't you come, too, Henry ?" she said, timidly. 

"No, I've quit," replied Henry. "I've quit begging 
where I don't get any alms; but as for you, if you get 



anything that satisfies your soul, for God's sake hold 
on to it, Eunice, and don't let it go." Then he pulled 
her bonneted head down and kissed her thin lips, with 
a kind of tenderness which was surprising. " You've 
been a good wife, Eunice," he said. 

Eunice laid her hand on his shoulder and looked at 
him a second. She was almost frightened. Outward 
evidences of affection had not been frequent between 
them of late years, or indeed ever. They were New- 
Englanders to the marrow of their bones. Anything 
like an outburst of feeling or sentiment, unless in case 
of death or disaster, seemed abnormal. Henry realized 
his wife's feeling, and he smiled up at her. 

"We are getting to be old folks," he said, "and we've 
had more bitter than sweet in life, and we have neither 
of us ever said much as to how we felt to each other, 
but — I never loved you as much as I love you now, 
Eunice, and I've taken it into my head to say it." 

Eunice's lips quivered a little and her eyes reddened. 
"There ain't a woman in Amity who has had so good a 
husband as I have all these years, if you don't go to 
meeting," she replied. Then she added, after a second's 
pause: "I didn't know as you did feel just as you used 
to, Henry. I didn't know as any man did. I know 
I've lost my looks, and — " 

" I can seem to see your looks, brighter than ever they 
were, in your heart," said Henry. He colored himself a 
little at his own sentiment. Then he pulled her face 
down to his again and gave her a second kiss. "Now 
run along to your meeting," he said. "Have you got 
enough on? The wind sounds cold." 

"Yes," replied Eunice. This cape's real thick. I put 
a new lining in it this winter, you know, and, besides, 
I've got my crocheted jacket under it. I'm as warm 
as toast." 

Eunice, after she had gone out in the keen night air 


with her sister-in-law and her niece, reflected with more 
uneasiness than pleasure upon her husband's unwonted 

"Does it seem to you that Henry looks well lately ?" 
she asked the elder Maria, as they hurried along. 

"Yes; why not?" returned Maria. 

" I don't know. It seems to me he's been losing flesh." 

"Nonsense!" said Maria. "I never saw him looking 
better than he does now. I was thinking only this 
morning that he was making a better, healthier old 
man than he was as a young man. But I do wish he 
would go to meeting. I don't think his mind is right 
about some things. Suppose folks do have troubles. 
They ought to be led to the Lord by them, instead of 
pulling back. Henry hasn't had anything more to 
worry him, nor half as much, as most men. He don't 
take things right. He ought to go to meeting. " 

"I guess he's just as good as a good many who do go 
to meeting," returned Eunice, with unwonted spirit. 

"I don't feel competent to judge as to that," replied 
Maria, with a tone of aggravating superiority. Then 
she added, "'By their works ye shall know them.' " 

"I would give full as much for Henry's chances as 
for some who go to meeting every Sunday of their lives," 
said Eunice, with still more spirit. "And as for trials, 
they weigh heavier on some than on others." 

Then young Maria, who had been listening uneasily, 
broke in. She felt herself a strong partisan of her Aunt 
Eunice, for she adored her uncle, but she merely said 
that she thought Uncle Henry did look a little thin, and 
she supposed he was tired Sunday, and it was the only 
day he had to rest ; then she abruptly changed the whole 
subject by wondering if the Ramseys across the river 
would let Jessy go to church if she trimmed a hat for 
her with some red velvet and a feather which she had 
in her possession. 

2 73 


" No, they wouldn't!" replied her aunt Maria, sharply, 
at once diverted. " I can tell you just exactly what they 
would do, if you were to trim up a hat with that red 
velvet and that feather and give it to that young one. 
Her good-for-nothing mother would have it on her own 
head in no time, and go flaunting out in it with that man 
that boards there." 

Nothing could excel the acrimonious accent with 
which Aunt Maria weighed down the "man who boards 
there," and the acrimony was heightened by the hoarse- 
ness of her voice. Her cold was still far from well, but 
Aunt Maria stayed at home from church for nothing 
short of pneumonia. 

The church was about half a mile distant. The meet- 
ing w T as held in a little chapel built out like an architect- 
ural excrescence at the side of the great, oblong, wooden 
structure, with its piercing steeple. The chapel windows 
blazed with light. People were flocking in. As they 
entered, a young lady began to play on an out-of-tune 
piano, which Judge Josiah Saunders had presented to the 
church. She played a Moody-and-Sankey hymn as a 
sort of prologue, although nobody sang it. It w T as a 
curious custom which prevailed in the Amity church. 
A Moody-and-Sankey hymn was always played in even- 
ing meetings instead of the morning voluntary on the 
great organ. 

Maria and her two aunts moved forward and seated 
themselves. Maria looked absently at the smooth ex- 
panse of hair which showed below the hat of the girl 
who was playing. The air was played ver}^ slowly, 
otherwise the little audience might have danced a jig 
to it. Maria thought of the meetings which she used 
to attend in Edgham, and how she used to listen to the 
plaint of the whippoorwill on the river-bank while the 
little organ gave out its rich, husky drone. This, some- 
how, did not seem so religious to her. She remembered 



how she had used to be conscious of Wollaston Lee's 
presence, and how she had hoped he would walk home 
with her, and she reflected with what shame and vague 
terror she now held him constantly in mind. Then she 
thought of George Ramsey, and directly, without seeing 
him, she became aware that he was seated on her right 
and was furtively glancing at her. A wild despair seized 
her at the thought that he might offer to accompany her 
home, and how she must not allow it, and how she want- 
ed him to do so. She kept her head steadfastly averted. 
The meeting dragged on. Men rose and spoke and prayed, 
at intervals the out-of-tune piano was invoked. A wom- 
an behind Maria sang contralto with a curious effect, as 
if her head were in a tin-pail. There were odd, dull, 
metallic echoes about it which filled the whole chapel. 
The woman's daughter had some cheap perfume on her 
handkerchief, and she was incessantly removing it from 
her muff. A man at the left coughed a good deal. Maria 
saw in front of her Lily Merrill's graceful brown head, 
in a charming hat with red roses under the brim, and a 
long, soft, brown feather. Lily's mother was not with 
her. Dr. Ellridge did not attend evening meetings, and 
Mrs. Merrill always remained at home in the hope that 
he might call. 

After church was over, Maria stuck closely to her 
aunts. She even pushed herself between them, but they 
did not abet her. Both Eunice and Aunt Maria had 
seen George Ramsey, and they had their own views. 
Maria could not tell how it happened, but at the door of 
the chapel she found herself separated from both her 
aunts, and George Ramsey was asking if he might ac- 
company her home. Maria obeyed her instincts, al- 
though the next moment she could have killed herself 
for it. She smiled, and bowed, and tucked her little 
hand into the crook of the young man's offered arm. She 
did not see her aunts exchanging glances of satisfaction. 



"It will be a real good chance for her," said Eunice. 

"Hush, or somebody will hear you," said Maria, 
in a sharp, pleased tone, as she and her sister-in-law 
walked together down the moonlit street. 

Maria did not see Lily Merrill's start and look of 
piteous despair as she took George's arm. Lily was 
just behind her. Maria, in fact, saw nothing. She 
might have been walking in a vacuum of emotion. 

"It is a beautiful evening," said George Ramsey, and 
his voice trembled a little. 

"Yes, beautiful," replied Maria. 

Afterwards, thinking over their conversation, she 
could not remember that they had talked about any- 
thing else except the beauty of the evening, but had 
dwelt incessantly upon it, like the theme of a song. 

The aunts lagged behind purposely, and Maria went 
in Eunice's door. She thought that her niece would 
ask George to come in and she would not be in the way. 
Henry looked inquiringly at the two women, who had 
an air of mystery, and Maria responded at once to his 
unspoken question. 

"George Ramsey is seeing her home," she said, "and 
the front -door key is under the mat, and I thought 
Maria could ask him in, and I would go home through 
the cellar, and not be in the way. Three is a company." 
Maria said the last platitude with a silly simper. 

"I never saw anything like you women," said Henry, 
with a look of incredulous amusement. " I suppose you 
both of you have been making her wedding-dress, and 
setting her up house-keeping, instead of listening to the 

"I heard every word," returned Maria, with dignity, 
"and it was a very edifying meeting. It would have 
done some other folks good if they had gone, and as for 
Maria, she can't teach school all her days, and here is 
her father with a second wife." 



"Well, you women do beat the Dutch," said her 
brother, with a tenderly indulgent air, as if he were 
addressing children. 

Aunt Maria lingered in her brother's side of the house, 
talking about various topics. She hesitated even about 
her stealthy going through the cellar, lest she should 
disturb Maria and her possible lover. Now and then 
she listened. She stood close to the wall. Finally she 
said, with a puzzled look to Eunice, who was smoothing 
out her bonnet -strings, "It's queer, but I can't hear 
them talking." 

"Maybe he didn't come in," said Eunice. 

"If they are in the parlor, you couldn't hear them," 
said Henry, still with his half -quizzical, half -pitying 

"She would have taken him in the parlor — I should 
think she would have known enough to," said Eunice; 
"and you can't always hear talking in the parlor in 
this room." 

Maria made a move towards her brother's parlor, on 
the other side of the tiny hall. 

"I guess you are right," said she, "and I know she 
would have taken him in there. I started a fire in there 
on purpose before I went to meeting. It was borne in 
upon me that somebody might come home with her." 

Maria tiptoed into the parlor, with Eunice, still smooth- 
ing her bonnet-strings, at her heels. Both women stood 
close to the wall, papered with white-and-gold paper, 
and listened. 

"I can't hear a single thing," said Maria. 

"I can't either," said Eunice. "I don't believe he 
did come in." 

"It's dreadful queer, if he didn't," said Maria, "after 
the way he eyed her in meeting." 

"Suppose you go home through the cellar, and see," 
said Eunice. 



"I guess I will," said Maria. "I'll knock low on the 
wall when I get home, if he isn't there." 

The cellar stairs connected with the kitchen on either 
side of the Stillman house. Both women flew out into 
the kitchen, and Maria disappeared down the cellar 
stairs, with a little lamp which Eunice lit for her. Then 
Eunice waited. Presently there came a muffled knock 
on the wall. 

" No, he didn't come in," Eunice said to her husband, 
as she re-entered the sitting-room. 

Suddenly Eunice pressed her ear close to the sitting- 
room wall. Two treble voices were audible on the other 
side, but not a word of their conversation. " Maria and 
she are talking," said Eunice. 

What Aunt Maria was saying was this, in a tone of 
sharp wonder: 

"Where is he?" 

"Who?" responded Maria. 

"Why, you know as well as I do — George Ramsey." 
Aunt Maria looked sharply at her niece. "I hope you 
asked him in, Maria Edgham?" said she. 

"No, I didn't," said Maria. 

"Why didn't you?" 

" I was tired, and I wanted to go to bed." 

"Wanted to go to bed? Why, it's only a little after 
nine o'clock!" 

"Well, I can't help it, I'm tired." Maria spoke with 
a weariness which was unmistakable. She looked away 
from her aunt with a sort of blank despair. 

Aunt Maria continued to regard her. "You do act the 
queerest of any girl I ever saw," said she. "There was 
a nice fire in the parlor, and I thought you could offer 
him some refreshments. There is some of that nice 
cake, and some oranges, and I would have made some 

"I didn't feel as if I could sit ux-)," Maria said again, 


in her weary, hopeless voice. She went out into the 
kitchen, got a little lamp, and returned. " Good-night," 
she said to her aunt. 

" Good-night," replied Aunt Maria. " You are a queer 
girl. I don't see what you think." 

Maria went up-stairs, undressed, and went to bed. 
After she was in bed she could see the reflection of her 
aunt's sitting-room lamp on the ground outside, in a 
slanting shaft of light. Then it went out, and Maria 
knew that her aunt was also in bed in her little room 
out of the sitting-room. Maria could not go to sleep. 
She heard the clock strike ten, then eleven. Shortly 
after eleven she heard a queer sound, as of small stones 
or gravel thrown on her window. Maria was a brave 
girl. Her first sensation was one of anger. 

"What is any one doing such a thing as that for?" 
she asked herself. She rose, threw a shawl over her 
shoulders, and went straight to the window next the 
Merrill house, whence the sound had come. She opened 
it cautiously and peered out. Down on the ground be- 
low stood a long, triangle-shaped figure, like a night- 

"Who is it?" Maria called, in a soft voice. She was 
afraid, for some reason which she could not define, of 
awakening her aunt. She was more afraid of that than 
anything else. 

A little moan answered her ; the figure moved as if in 

"Who is it? What do you want?" Maria asked 

A weak voice answered her then, "It's I." 
"Who's I? Lily?" 

"Yes. Oh, do let me in, Maria." Lily's voice ended 
in a little, hysterical sob. 

"Hush," said Maria, "or Aunt Maria will hear you. 
Wait a minute." Maria unlocked her door with the 

19 279 


greatest caution, opened it, and crept down - stairs. 
Then she unlocked and opened the front door. Luckilv 
Aunt Maria's room was some feet in the rear. "Come 
quick,' ' Maria whispered, and Lily came running up to 
her. Then Maria closed and locked the front door, 
while Lily stood trembling and waiting. Then she led 
her up-stairs in the dark. Lily's slender fingers closed 
upon her with a grasp of ice. When they were once in 
Maria's room, with the door closed and locked, Maria 
took hold of Lily violently by the shoulders. She felt 
at once rage and pity for her. 

"What on earth is the matter, Lily Merrill, that you 
come over here this time of night?" she asked. Then 
she added, in a tone of horror, " Lily Merrill, you haven't 
a thing on but a skirt and your night - gown un- 
der your shawl. Have you got anything on your 

"Slippers," answered Lily, meekly. Then she clung 
to Maria and began to sob hysterically. 

"Come, Lily Merrill, you just stop this and get into 
bed," said Maria. She unwound Lily's shawl, pulled 
off her skirt, and fairly forced her into bed. Then she 
got in beside her. "What on earth is the matter?" she 
asked again. 

Lily's arm came stealing around her and Lily's cold, 
wet cheek touched her face. "Oh, Maria!" she sobbed, 
under her breath. 

"Well, what is it all about?" 

"Oh, Maria, are — are you—" 

"Am I what?" 

"Are you going with him?" 

"With whom?" 

"With George — with George Ramsey?" A long, 
trembling sob shook Lily. 

"I am going with nobody," answered Maria, in a 
hard voice. 



"But he came home with you. I saw him; I did, 
Maria/' Lily sobbed again. 

"Well, what of it?" asked Maria, impatiently. "I 
didn't care anything about his going home with me." 

"Didn't he come in?" 

"No, he didn't." 

"Didn't you— ask him?" 

"No, I didn't." 


"Well, what?" 

"Maria, aren't you going to marry him if he asks 

"No," said Maria, "I am never going to marry him, 
if that is what you want to know. I am never going to 
marry George Ramsey." 

Lily sobbed. 

"I should think you would be ashamed of yourself. 
I should think any girl would, acting so," said Maria. 
Her voice was a mere whisper, but it was cruel. She 
felt that she hated Lily. Then she realized how icy 
cold the girl was and how she trembled from head to 
feet in a nervous chill. "You'll catch your death," she 

"Oh, I don't care if I do!" Lily said, in her hysterical 
voice, which had now a certain tone of comfort. 

Maria considered again how much she despised and 
hated her, and again Lily shook with a long tremor. 
Maria got up and tiptoed over to her closet, where she 
kept a little bottle of wine which the doctor had ordered 
when she first came to Amity. It was not half emptied. 
A wineglass stood on the mantel-shelf, and Maria filled 
it with the wine by the light of the moon. Then she re- 
turned to Lily. 

"Here," she said, still in the same cruel voice. "Sit 
up and drink this." 

"What is it?" moaned Lily. 



" Never mind what it is. Sit up and drink it." 

Lily sat up and obediently drank the wine, every drop. 

"Now lie down and keep still, and go to sleep, and 
behave yourself," said Maria. 

Lily tried to say something, but Maria would not 
listen to her. 

"Don't you speak another word," said she. "Keep 
still, or Aunt Maria will be up. Lie still and go to 

It was not long before, warmed by the wine and com- 
forted by Maria's assertion that she was never going to 
marry George Ramsey, that Lily fell asleep. Maria lay 
awake hearing her long, even breaths, and she felt how 
she hated her, how she hated herself, how she hated 
life. There was no sleep for her. Just before dawn she 
woke Lily, bundled her up in some extra clothing, and 
went with her across the yard, home. 

"Now go up to your own room just as still as you 
can," said she, and her voice sounded terrible even in 
her own ears. She waited until she heard the key softly 
turn in the door of the Merrill house. Then she sped 
home and up to her own room. Then she lay down in 
bed again and waited for broad daylight. 


When Maria dressed herself the next morning, she 
had an odd, shamed expression as she looked at herself 
in her glass while braiding her hair. It actually seemed 
to her as if she herself, and not Lily Merrill, had so 
betrayed herself and given way to an unsought love. 
She felt as if she saw Lily instead of herself, and she 
was at once humiliated and angered. She had to pass 
Lily's house on her way to school, and she did not once 
look up, although she had a conviction that Lily was 
watching her from one of the sitting-room windows. It 
was a wild winter day, with frequent gusts of wind 
swaying the trees to the breaking of the softer branches, 
and flurries of snow. It was hard work to keep the 
school-house warm. Maria, in the midst of her perturba- 
tion, had a comforted feeling at seeing Jessy Ramsey in 
her warm clothing. She passed her arm around the 
little girl at recess ; it was so cold that only a few of the 
boys went outside. 

"Have you got them on, dear?" she whispered. 

" Yes'm," said Jessy. Then, to Maria's consternation, 
she caught her hand and kissed it, and began sobbing. 
"They're awful warm," sobbed Jessy Ramsey, looking 
at Maria with her little, convulsed face. 

"Hush, child," said Maria. "There's nothing to cry 
about. Mind you keep them nice. Have you got a 
bureau-drawer you can put them in ? — those you haven't 
on? Don't cry. That's silly." 

"I 'ain't got no bureau," sobbed Jessy. "But — " 

"Haven't any," corrected Maria. 



"Haven't any bureau-drawer," said the child. "But 

I got a box what somethin' — " 
"That something," said Maria. 

" That something came from the store in, an* I've got 

" Them all packed away. They're awful warm." 
"Don't cry, dear," said Maria. 

The other children did not seem to be noticing them. 
Suddenly Maria, who still had her arm around the thin 
shoulders of the little girl, stooped and kissed her rather 
grimy but soft little cheek. As she did so, she expe- 
rienced the same feeling which she used to have when 
caressing her little sister Evelyn. It was a sort of 
rapture of tenderness and protection. It was the mater- 
nal instinct glorified and rendered spiritual by maiden- 
hood, and its timid desires. Jessy Ramsey's eyes looked 
up into Maria's like blue violets, and Maria noticed with 
a sudden throb that they were like George Ramsey's. 
Jessy, coming as she did from a degenerate, unbeautiful 
branch of the family -tree, had yet some of the true 
Ramsey features, and, among others, she had the true 
Ramsey eyes. They were large and very dark blue, 
and they were set in deep, pathetic hollows. As she 
looked up at Maria, it was exactly as if George were 
looking at her with pleading and timid love. Maria 
took her arm sudden away from the child. 

"Be you mad?" asked Jessy, humbly. 

' k Xo, I am not," replied Maria. " But you should not 
say 'be you mad'; you should say are you angry." 

" Yes'm," said Jessy Ramsey. 

Jessy withdrew, still with timid eyes of devotion fixed 
upon her teacher, and Maria seated herself behind her 
desk, took out some paper, and began to write an ex- 
ercise for the children to copy upon the black-board. 
She was trembling from head to foot. She felt exactly 



as if George Ramsey had been looking at her with eyes 
of love, and she remembered that she was married, and 
it seemed to her that she was horribly guilty. 

Maria never once looked again at Jessy Ramsey, at 
least not fully in the eyes, during the day. The child's 
mouth began to assume a piteous expression. After 
school that afternoon she lingered, as usual, to walk the 
little way before their roads separated, so to speak, 
in her beloved teacher's train. But Maria spoke quite 
sharply to her. 

"You had better run right home, Jessy," she said. 
"It is snowing, and you will get cold. I have a few 
things to see to before I go. Run right home." 

Poor little Jessy Ramsey, who was as honestly in love 
with her teacher as she would ever be with any one in 
her life, turned obediently and went away. Maria's 
heart smote her. 

"Jessy," she called after her, and the child turned 
back half frightened, half radiant. Maria put her arm 
around her and kissed her. "Wash your face before 
you come to school to-morrow, dear," she said. "Now, 

"Yes'm," said Jessy, and she skipped away quite 
happy. She thought teacher had rebuffed her because 
her face was not washed, and that did not trouble her 
in the least. Lack of cleanliness or lack of morals, when 
brought home to them, could hardly sting any scion of 
that branch of the Ramseys. Lack of affection could, 
however, and Jessy was quite happy in thinking that 
teacher loved her, and was only vexed because her 
face was dirty. Jessy had not gone a dozen paces 
from the school-house before she stopped, scooped up 
some snow in a little, grimy hand, and rubbed her 
cheeks violently. Then she wiped them on her new 
petticoat. Her cheeks tingled frightfully, but she felt 
that she was obeying a mandate of love. 



Maria did not see her. She in reality lingered a little 
over some exercises in the school-house before she start- 
ed on her way home. It was snowing quite steadily, and 
the wind still blew. The snow made the wind seem as 
evident as the wings of a bird. Maria hurried along. 
When she reached the bridge across the Ramsey River 
she saw a girl standing as if waiting for her. The girl 
was all powdered with snow and she had on a thick veil, 
but Maria immediately knew that she was Lily Merrill. 
Lily came up to her as she reached her w T ith almost an 
abject motion. She had her veiled face lowered before 
the storm, and she carried herself as if her spirit also 
was lowered before some wind of fate. She pressed 
timidly close to Maria when she reached her. 

"I've been waiting for you, Maria," she said. 

"Have you?" returned Maria, coldly. 

"Yes, I wanted to see you, and I didn't know as I 
could, unless I met you. I didn't know whether you 
would have a fire in your room to-night, and I thought 
your aunt would be in the sitting-room, and I thought 
you wouldn't be apt to come over to my house, it storms 

"No, I shouldn't," Maria said, shortly. 

Then Lily burst out in a piteous low wail, a human 
wail piercing the wail of the storm. The two girls were 
quite alone on the bridge. 

"Oh, Maria," said Lily, "I did want you to know 
how dreadfully ashamed I was of what I did last 

" I should think you would be," Maria said, pitilessly. 
She walked on ahead, with her mouth in a straight line, 
and did not look at the other girl. 

Lily came closer to her and passed one of her arms 
through Maria's and pressed against her softly. "I 
wanted to tell you, too," she said, "that I made an 
excuse about — that handkerchief the other night. I 



thought it was in my coat-pocket all the time. I did 
it just so he would go home with me last." 

Maria looked at her. " I never saw such a girl as you 
are, Lily Merrill/ 1 she said, contemptuously, but in spite 
of herself there was a soft accent in her voice. It was 
not in Maria's nature to be hard upon a repentant 

Lily leaned her face against Maria's snow-powdered 
shoulder. "I was dreadfully ashamed of it," said she, 
" and I thought I must tell you, Maria. You don't think 
so very badly of me, do you? I know I was awful." 
The longing for affection and approbation in Lily's voice 
gave it almost a singing quality. She was so fond of 
love and approval that the withe awal of it smote her 
like a frost of the spirit. 

"I think it was terribly bold of you, if you want to 
know just what I think," Maria said; "and I think you 
were very deceitful. Before I would do such a thing to 
get a young man to go home with me, I would — " Maria 
paused. Suddenly she remembered that she had her 
secret, and she felt humbled before this other girl whom 
she was judging. She became conscious to such an 
extent of the beam in her own eye that she was too 
blinded to see the mote in that of poor Lily, who, in- 
deed, was not to blame, being simply helpless before 
her own temperament and her own emotions. 

"I know I did do a dreadful thing," moaned Lily. 

Then Maria pressed the clinging arm under her own. 

"Well," said she, as she might have spoken to a child, 
"if I were you I would not think any more about it, 
Lily, I would put it out of my mind. Only, I would not, 
if I were you, and really wanted a young man to care 
for me, let him think I was running after him." 

As she said the last, Maria paled. She glanced at 
Lily's beautiful face tinder the veil, and realized that it 
might be very easy for anv young man to care for such 



a girl, who had, in reality, a sweet nature, besides beauty, 
if she only adopted the proper course to win him, and 
that it was obviously her (Maria's) duty to teach her to 
win him. 

"I know it. I won't again, " Lily said, humbly. 
The two girls walked on ; they had crossed the bridge. 
Suddenly Lily plucked up a little spirit. 
"Say, Maria," said she. 
"What is it, dear?" 

"I just happened to think. Mother was asked to tea 
to Mrs. Ralph Wright's to-night, but she isn't going. 
Is your aunt going?" 

"Yes, I believe she is," said Maria. 

"She won't be hoi s before eight o'clock, will she?" 

"No, I don't suppose she will. They are to have tea 
at six, I believe." 

"Then I am coming over after mother and I have tea. 
I have something I want to tell you." 

"All right, dear," replied Maria, hesitatingly. 

When Maria got home she found her aunt Maria all 
dressed, except for her collar-fastening. She was wait- 
ing for Maria to attend to that. Her thin gray-blond 
hair was beautifully crimped, and she wore her best 
black silk dress. She was standing by the sitting-room 
window when Maria entered. 

" I am glad you have come, Maria," said she. " I have 
been standing quite awhile. You are late." 

" Yes, I am rather late," replied Maria. " But why on 
earth didn't you sit down?" 

" Do you sujJpose I am going to sit down more than I 
can help in this dress?" said her aunt. "There is noth- 
ing hurts a silk dress more than sitting down in it. Now 
if you will hook my collar, Maria. I can do it, but I 
don't like to strain the seams by reaching round, and I 
didn't want to trail this dress down the cellar stairs to 
get Eunice to fasten it up." Aunt Maria bewailed the 



weather in a deprecating fashion while Maria was fasten- 
ing the collar at the back of her skinny neck. " I never 
want to find fault with the weather," said she, " because, 
of course, the weather is regulated by Something higher 
than we are, and it must be for our best good, but I do 
hate to wear this dress out in such a storm, and I don't 
dare wear my cashmere. Mrs. Ralph Wright is so par- 
ticular she would be sure to think I didn't pay her proper 

"You can wear my water-proof," said Maria. "I 
didn't wear it to-day, you know. I didn't think the 
snow would do this dress any harm. The water-proof 
will cover you all up." 

"Well, I suppose I can, and can pin my skirt up," 
said Aunt Maria, in a resigned tcne„ "I don't want to 
find fault with the weather, but I do hate to pin up a 
black silk skirt." 

"You can turn it right up around your waist, and 
fasten the braid to your belt, and then it won't hurt it," 
said Maria, consolingly. 

"Well, I suppose I can. Your supper is all ready, 
Maria. There's bread and butter, and chocolate cake, 
and some oysters. I. thought you wouldn't mind making 
yourself a little stew. I couldn't make it before you 
came, because it wouldn't be fit to eat. You know how. 
Be sure the milk is hot before you put the oysters in. 
There is a good fire." 

" Oh yes, I know how. Don't you worry about me," 
said Maria, turning up her aunt's creaseless black silk 
skirt gingerly. It was rather incomprehensible to her 
that anybody should care so much whether a black silk 
skirt was creased or not, when the terrible undertone of 
emotions which underline the world, and are its creative 
motive, were in existence, but Maria was learning gradu- 
ally to be patient with the small worries of others which 
seemed large to them, and upon which she herself could 



not place much stress. She stood at the window, when 
her aunt at last emerged from the house, and picked her 
way through the light snow, and her mouth twitched a 
little at the absurd, shapeless figure. Her Aunt Eunice 
had joined her, and she was not so shapeless. She held 
up her dress quite fashionably on one side, with a rather 
generous display of slender legs. Aunt Maria did not 
consider that her sister-in-law was quite careful enough 
of her clothes. " Henry won't always be earning," she 
often said to Maria. To-day she had eyed with disap- 
proval Eunice's best black silk trailing from under her 
cape, when she entered the sitting-room. She had come 
through the cellar. 

" Are you going that way, in such a storm, in your best 
black silk?" she inquired. 

"I haven't any water-proof," replied Eunice, "and 
I don't see what else I can do." 

" You might wear my old shawl spread out." 

"I wouldn't go through the street cutting such a 
figure," said Eunice, with one of her occasional bursts 
of spirit. She was delighted to go. Nobody knew how 
this meek, elderly woman loved a little excitement. 
There were red spots on her thin cheeks, and she looked 
almost as if she had used rouge. Her eyes snapped. 

"I should think you would turn your skirt up, any- 
way," said Aunt Maria. "You've got your black petti- 
coat on, haven't you?" 

"Yes," replied Eunice. "But if you think I am go- 
ing right through the Main Street in my petticoat, you 
are mistaken. Snow won't hurt the silk any. It's a 
dry snow, and it will shake right off." 

So Eunice, at the side of Aunt Maria, went with her 
dress kilted high, and looked as preternatural^ slim as 
her sister-in-law looked stout. Maria, watching them, 
thought how funny they were. She herself was ele- 
mental, and they, in their desires and interests, were like 



motes floating on the face of the waters. Maria, while 
she had always liked pretty clothes, had come to a pass 
wherein she relegated them to their proper place. She 
recognized many things as externals which she had 
heretofore considered as essentials. She had developed 
wonderfully in a few months. As she turned away 
from the window she caught a glimpse of Lily Merrill's 
lovely face in a window of the opposite house, above a 
mass of potted geraniums. Lily nodded, and smiled, 
and Maria nodded back again. Her heart sank at the 
idea of Lily's coming that evening, a sickening jealous 
dread of the confidence which she was to make to her 
was over her, and yet she said to herself that she had 
no right to have this dread. She prepared her supper 
and ate it, and had hardly cleared away the table and 
washed the dishes before Lily came flying across the 
yard before the storm-wind. Maria hurried to the door 
to let her in. 

"Your aunt went, didn't she?" said Lily, entering, 
and shaking the flakes of snow from her skirts. 

" I don't see why mother wouldn't go. Mother never 
goes out anywhere, and she isn't nearly as old as your 

Lily and Maria seated themselves in the sitting-room 
before the stove. Lily looked at Maria, and a faint red 
overspread her cheeks. She began to speak, then she 
hesitated, and evidently said something which she had 
not intended. 

"How pretty that is!" she said, pointing to a great 
oleander-tree in flower, which was Aunt Maria's pride. 
"Yes, I think it is pretty." 

"Lovely. The very prettiest one I ever saw." Lily 
hesitated again, but at last she began to speak, with the 
red on her cheeks brighter and her eyes turned away from 
Maria. " I wanted to tell you something, Maria," said she. 



"Well?" said Maria. Her own face was quite pale 
and motionless. She was doing some fancy-work, em- 
broidering a centre-piece, and she continued to take 
careful stitches. 

"I know you thought I was awful, doing the way I 
did last night," said Lily, in her sweet murmur. She 
drooped her head, and the flush on her oval cheeks was 
like the flush on a wild rose. Lily wore a green house- 
dress, which set her off as the leaves and stem set off a 
flower. It was of some soft material which clung about 
her and displayed her tender curves. She wore at her 
throat an old cameo brooch which had belonged to her 
grandmother, and which had upon its onyx background 
an ivory head as graceful as her own. Maria, beside 
Lily, although she herself was very pretty, looked ordi- 
nary in her flannel blouse and black skirt, which was 
her school costume. 

Maria continued taking careful stitches in the petals 
of a daisy which she was embroidering. "I think we 
have talked enough about it," she said. 

"But I want to tell you something. 99 

"Why don't you tell it, then?" 

"I know you thought I did something awful, running 
across the yard and coming here in the night the way 
I did, and showing you that I — I, well, that I minded 
George Ramsey's coming home with you; but — look 
here, Maria, I — had a little reason." 

Maria paled perceptibly, but she kept on steadily with 
her work. 

Lily flushed more deeply. " George Ramsey has been 
home with me from evening meeting quite a number of 
times," she said. 

"Has he?" said Maria. 

"Yes. Of course we were walking the same way. 
He may not really have meant to see me home." There 
was a sort of innate honesty in Lily which always led 




her to retrieve the lapses from the strict truth when in 
her favor. "Maybe he didn't really mean to see me 
home, and sometimes he didn't offer me his arm, ,, she 
added, with a childlike wistfulness, as if she desired 
Maria to reassure her. 

"I dare say he meant to see ycu home," said Maria, 
rather shortly. 

"I am not quite sure," said Lily. "But he did walk 
home with me quite a number of times, first and last, 
and you know we used to go to the same school, and a 
number of times then, when we were a good deal 
younger, he really did see me home, and — he kissed me 
good-night then. Of course he hasn't done that lately, 
because we were older." 

"I should think not, unless you were engaged," said 

"Of course not, but he has said several things to me. 
Maybe he didn't mean anything, but they sounded — 
I thought I would like to tell you, Maria. I have never 
told anybody, not even mother. Once he said my name 
just suited me, and once he asked me if I thought mar- 
ried people were happier, and once he said he thought 
it was a doubtful experiment for a man to marry and 
try to live either with his wife's mother or his own. 
You know, if he married me, it would have to be one 
way or the other. Do you think he meant anything, 

"I don't know," said Maria. "I didn't hear him." 

"Well, I thought he spoke as if he meant it, but, of 
course, a girl can never be sure. I suppose men do say 
so many things they don't mean. Don't you?" 

"Yes, I suppose they do." 

"Do you think he did, Maria?" asked Lily, piteously. 

"My dear child, I told you I didn't hear him, and I 
don't see how I can tell," repeated Maria, with a little 
impatience. It did seem hard to her that she should 



be so forced into a confidence of this kind, but an odd 
feeling of protective tenderness for Lily was stealing 
over her. She reached a certain height of nobility 
which she had never reached before, through this feeling. 

"I know men so often say things when they mean 
nothing at all," Lily said again. " Perhaps he didn't 
mean anything. I know he has gone home with Agnes 
Sears several times, and he has talked to her a good deal 
when we have been at parties. Do you think she is 
pretty, Maria ?" 

"Yes, I think she is quite pretty," replied Maria. 

"Do you think — she is better-looking than — I am?" 
asked Lily, feebly. 

"No, of course I don't," said Maria. "You are a 
perfect beauty." 

" Oh, Maria, do you think so ?" 

"Of course I do! You know it yourself as well as I 

"No, honest, I am never quite sure, Maria. Some- 
times it does seem to me when I am dressed up that I 
am really better-looking than some girls, but I am never 
quite sure that it isn't because it is I who am looking 
at myself. A girl wants to think she is pretty, you 
know, Maria, especially if she wants anybody to like 
her, and I can't ever tell." 

"Well, you can rest easy about that," said Maria. 
"You are a perfect beauty. There isn't a girl in Amity 
to compare with you. You needn't have any doubt at 

An expression of quite innocent and naive vanity 
overspread Lily's charming face. She cast a glance at 
herself in a glass which hung on the opposite wall, and 
smiled as a child might have done at her own reflection. 
"Do you think this green dress is becoming to me?" 
said she. 




"But, Maria, do you suppose George Ramsey thinks 
I am so pretty ?" 

"I should think he must, if he has eyes in his head," 
replied Maria. 

"But you are pretty yourself, Maria," said Lily, with 
the most open jealousy and anxiety, "and you are 
smarter than I am, and he is so smart. I do think he 
cares a great deal more for you than for me. I think 
he must, Maria." 

"Nonsense!" said Maria. "Just because a young 
man walks home with me once you think he is in love 
with me." Maria tried to speak lightly and scornfully, 
but in spite of herself there was an accent of gratifica- 
tion in her tone. In spite of herself she forgot for the 

"I think he does, all the same," said Lily, dejectedly. 

" Nonsense! He doesn't ; and if he did, he would have 
to take it out in caring." 

"Then you were in earnest about what you said last 
night?" said Lily, eagerly. "You really mean you 
wouldn't have George Ramsey if he asked you?" 

" Not if he asked every day in the year for a hundred 

"I guess you must have seen somebody else whom 
you liked," said Lily, and Maria colored furiously. 
Then Lily laughed. "Oh, you have!" she cried, with 
sudden glee. "You are blushing like anything. Do 
tell me, Maria." 

"I have nothing to tell." 

"Maria Edgham, you don't dare tell me you are not 
in love with anybody?" 

"I should not answer a question of that kind to any 
other girl, anyway," Maria replied, angrily. 

"You are. I know it," said Lily. "Don't be angry, 
dear. I am real glad." 

"I didn't say I was in love, and there is nothing for 

20 295 


you to be glad about," returned Maria, fairly scarlet 
with shame and rage. She tangled the silk with which 
she was working, and broke it short off. Maria was as 
yet not wholly controlled by herself. 

" Why, you'll spoil that daisy," Lily said, wonderingly. 
She herself was incapable of any such retaliation upon 
inanimate objects. She would have carefully untangled 
her silk, no matter how deeply she suffered. 

"I don't care if I do!" cried Maria. 

"Why, Maria!" 

"Well, I don't care. I am fairly sick of so much talk 
and thinking about love and getting married, as if there 
were nothing else." 

"Maybe you are different, Maria," admitted Lily, in 
a humiliated fashion. 

" I don't want to hear any more about it," Maria said, 
taking a fresh thread from her skein of white silk. 

"But do you mean what you said?" 

"Yes, I do. once for all. That settles it." 

Lily looked at her wistfully. She did not find Maria 
as sympathetic as she wished. Then she glanced at her 
beautiful visage in the glass, and remembered what the 
other girl had said about her beauty, and again she 
smiled her childlike smile of gratified vanity and pleas- 
ure. Then suddenly the door-bell rang. 

Lily gave a great start, and turned white as she looked 
at Maria. "It's George Ramsey," she whispered. 

"Nonsense! How do you know?" asked Maria, lay- 
ing her work on the table beside the lamp, and rising. 

"I don't know. I do know." 

"Nonsense!" Still Maria stood looking irresolutely 
at Lily. 

"I know," said Lily, and she trembled perceptibly. 
" I don't see how you can tell," said Maria. She made 
a step towards the door. 

Lily sprang up. "I am going home," said she. 



"Going home? Why?" 

" He has come to see you, and I won't stay. I won't. 
I know you despised me for what I did the other night, 
and I won't do such a thing as to stay when he has come 
to see another girl. I am not quite as bad as that." 
Lily started towards her cloak, which lay over a chair. 

Maria seized her by the shotilders with a nervous grip 
of her little hands. "Lily Merrill," said she, "if you 
stir, if you dare to stir to go home, I will not go to the 
door at all!" 

Lily gasped and looked at her. 

"I won't!" said Maria. 

The bell rang a second time. 

"You have got to go to the door," said Maria, with a 
sudden impulse. 

Lily quivered under her hands. 
"Why? Oh, Maria!" 

"Yes, you have. You go to the door, and I will run 
up-stairs the back way to my room. I don't feel well 
to-night, anyway. I have an awful headache. You go 
to the door, and if it is — George Ramsey, you tell him 
I have gone to bed with a headache, and you have come 
over to stay with me because Aunt Maria has gone away. 
Then you can ask him in." 

A flush of incredulous joy came over Lily's face. 

"You don't mean it, Maria?" she whispered, faintly. 

"Yes, I do. Hurry, or he'll go away." 

"Have you got a headache, honest?" 

"Yes, I have. Hurry, quick! If it is anybody else 
do as you like about asking him in. Hurry!" 

With that Maria was gone, scudding up the back 
stairs which led out of the adjoining room. She gained 
her chamber as noiselessly as a shadow. The room was 
very dark except for a faint gleam on one wall from a 
neighbor's lamp. Maria stood still, listening, in the 
middle of the floor. She heard the front door opened, 



then she heard voices. She heard steps. The steps 
entered the sitting-room. Then she heard the voices 
in a steady flow. One of them was undoubtedly a 
man's. The bass resonances were unmistakable. A 
peal of girlish laughter rang out. Maria noiselessly 
groped her way to her bed, threw herself upon it, face 
down, and lay there shaking with silent sobs. 


Maria did not hear Lily laugh again, although the 
conversation continued. In reality, Lily was in a state 
of extreme shyness, and was, moreover, filled with a 
sense of wrong-doing. There had been something about 
Maria's denial which had not convinced her. In her 
heart of hearts, the heart of hearts of a foolish but lov- 
ing girl, who never meant anybody any harm, and, on 
the contrary, wished everybody well, although naturally 
herself first, she was quite sure that Maria also loved 
George Ramsey. She drooped before him with this con- 
sciousness when she opened the door, and the young man 
naturally started with a little surprise at the sight of her. 

" Maria has gone to bed with a headache," she faltered, 
before George had time to inquire for her. Then she 
added, in response to the young man's look of astonish- 
ment, the little speech which Maria had prepared for 
her. "Her aunt has gone out, and so I came over to 
stay with her." Lily was a born actress. It was not 
her fault that a little accent of tender pity for Maria in 
her lonely estate, with her aunt away, and a headache, 
crept into her voice. She at the moment almost be- 
lieved what she said. It became quite real to her. 

"I am sorry Miss Edgham has a headache," said 
George, after a barely perceptible second of hesitation, 
"but, as long as she has, I may as well come in and make 
you a little call, Lily." 

Lily quivered perceptibly. She tried to show becom- 
ing pride, but failed. " I should be very happy to have 
you," she said, "but — " 



"Well, it is asking you to play second fiddle, and no 
mistake," laughed George Ramsey, "for I did think I 
would make Miss Edgham a little call. But, after all, 
the second fiddle is an indispensable thing, and you and 
I are old friends, Lily." 

He could not help the admiration in his eyes as he 
looked at Lily. She carried a little lamp, and the soft 
light was thrown upon her lovely face, and her brown 
hair gleamed gold in it. No man could have helped 
admiring her. Lily had never been a very brilliant 
scholar, but she could read admiration for herself. She 
regained her self-possession. 

"I don't mind playing second fiddle," said she. "I 
should be glad if I could play any fiddle. Come in, Mr. 

"How very formal we have grown!" laughed George, 
as he took off his coat and hat in the icy little hall. 
"Why, don't you remember we went to school together ? 
What is the use?" 

"George, then," said Lily. Her voice seemed to 
caress the name. 

The young man colored. He was of a stanch sort, 
but he was a man, and the adulation of such a beautiful 
girl as this touched him. He took the lamp out of her 

"Come in, then," he said; "but it is rather funny for 
me to be calling on you here, isn't it?" 

"Funnier than it would be for you to call on me at 
my own house," said Lily, demurely, with a faint accent 
of reproach. 

"Well, I must admit I am not very neighborly," 
George replied, with an apologetic air. "But, you see, 
I am really busy a good many evenings with accounts, 
and I don't go out very much." 

Lily reflected that he had come to call on Maria, in 
spite of being busy, but she said nothing. She placed 



Maria's vacant chair for him beside the sitting-room 

" It is a hard storm, " she said. 

"Very. It is a queer night for Miss Edgham's aunt 
to go out, it seems to me." 

"Mrs. Ralph Wright has a tea-party," said Lily. 
"Maria's aunt Eunice has gone, too. My mother was 
invited, but mother never goes out in the evening." 

After these commonplace remarks, Lily seated her- 
self opposite George Ramsey, and there was a little 
silence. Again the expression of admiration came into 
the young man's face, and the girl read it with delight. 
Sitting gracefully, her slender body outlined by the 
soft green of her dress, her radiant face showing above 
the ivory cameo brooch at her throat, she was charming. 
George Ramsey owned to himself that Lily was certainly 
a great beauty, but all the same he thought regretfully 
of the other girl, who was not such a beauty, but who 
had somehow appealed to him as no other girl had ever 
done. Then, too, Maria was in a measure new. He 
had known Lily all his life ; the element of wonder and 
surprise was lacking in his consciousness of her beauty, 
and she also lacked something else which Maria had. 
Lily meant no more to him — that is, her beauty meant 
no more to him — than a symmetrical cherry-tree in the 
south yard, which was a marvel of scented beauty, 
humming with bees every spring. He had seen that 
tree ever since he could remember. He always looked 
upon it with pleasure when it was in blossom, yet it was 
not to him what a new tree, standing forth unexpectedly 
with its complement of flowers and bees, would have 
been. It was very unfortunate for Lily that George 
had known her all his life. In order really to attract 
him it would be necessary for him to discover something 
entirely new in her. 

"It was very good of you to come in and stay 


with Miss Edgham while her aunt was gone," said 

He felt terribly at a loss for conversation. He had, 
without knowing it, a sense of something under- 
neath the externals which put a constraint upon 

Lily had one of the truth-telling impulses which re- 
deemed her from the artifices of her mother. 

" Oh," said she, " I wanted to come. I proposed com- 
ing myself. It is dull evenings at home, and I did not 
know that Maria would go to bed or that you would 
come in." 

" Well, mother has gone to that tea-party, too," said 
George, "and I looked over here and saw the light, and 
1 thought I would just run in a minute." 

For some unexplained reason tears were standing in 
Lily's eyes and her mouth quivered a little. George 
could not see, for the life of him, why she should be on 
the verge of tears. He felt a little impatient, but at 
the same time she became more interesting to him. He 
had never seen Lily weeping since the time when she 
was a child at school, and used to conceal her weeping 
little face in a ring of her right arm, as was the fashion 
among the little girls. 

"This light must shine right in your sitting-room 
windows," said Lily, in a faint voice. She was con- 
sidering how pitiful it was that George had not had the 
impulse to call upon her, Lily, when she was so lovely 
and loving in her green gown; and how even this little 
happiness was not really her own, but another girl's. 
She had not the least realization of how Maria was suf- 
fering, lying in her room directly overhead. 

Maria suffered as she had never suffered before. 
George Ramsey was her first love; the others had been 
merely childish playthings. She was strangling love, 
and that is a desperate deed, and the strangler suffers 



more than love. Maria, with the memory of that mar- 
riage which was, indeed, no marriage, but the absurd 
travesty of one, upon her, was in almost a suicidal frame 
of mind. She knew perfectly well that if it had not been 
for that marriage secret which she held always in mind, 
that George Ramsey would continue to call, that they 
would become engaged, that her life might be like other 
women's. And now he was down there with Lily — Lily, 
in her green gown. She knew just how Lily would look 
at him, with her beautiful, soft eyes. She hated her, and 
yet she hated herself more than she hated her. She told 
herself that she had no good reason for hating another 
girl for doing what she herself had done — for falling in 
love with George Ramsey. She knew that she should 
never have made a confidant of another girl, as Lily had 
made of her. She realized a righteous contempt because 
of her weakness, and yet she felt that Lily was the 
normal girl, that nine out of ten would do exactly what 
she had done. And she also had a sort of pity for her. 
She could not quite believe that a young man like George 
Ramsey could like Lily, who, however beautiful she was, 
was undeniably silly. But then she reflected how young 
men were popularly supposed not to mind a girl's being 
silly if she was beautiful. Then she ceased to pity Lily, 
and hated her again. She became quite convinced that 
George Ramsey would marry her. 

She had locked her door, and lay on her bed fully 
dressed. She made up her mind that when Aunt Maria 
came she would pretend to be asleep. She felt that she 
could not face Aunt Maria's wondering questions. Then 
she reflected that Aunt Maria would be home soon, and 
a malicious joy seized her that Lily would not have 
George Ramsey long to herself. Indeed, it was scarcely 
half-past eight before Maria heard the side-door open. 
Then she heard, quite distinctly, Aunt Maria's voice, al- 
though she could not distinguish the words. Maria 



laughed a little, smothered, hysterical laugh at the ab- 
surdity of the situation. 

It was, in fact, ludicrous. Aunt Maria entered the 
sitting-room, a grotesque figure in her black skirt bun- 
dled up under Maria's waterproof, which was powdered 
with snow. She wore her old black bonnet, and the 
wind had tipped that rakishly to one side. She stared 
at Lily and George Ramsey, who both rose with crimson 

"Good-evening," Lily ventured, feebly. 

"Good-evening, Miss Stillman, ,, George said, follow- 
ing the girl's lead. Then, as he was more assured, he 
added that it was a very stormy night. 

George had been sitting on one side of the stove, Lily 
on the other, in the chairs which Maria and Lily had 
occupied before the young man's arrival. They had 
both sprung up with a guilty motion when Aunt Maria 
entered. Aunt Maria stood surveying them. She did 
not return their good - evenings, nor George's advance 
with regard to the weather. Her whole face expressed 
sev2re astonishment. Her thin lips gaped slightly, her 
pale eyes narrowed. She continued to look at them, 
and they stood before her like culprits. 

"Where's Maria gone?" said Aunt Maria, finally, in 
a voice which seemed to have an edge to it. 

Then Lily spoke with soft and timid volubility. 
"Maria said her head ached so she thought she had 
better go to bed, Miss Stillman," she said. 

"I didn't hear anything about any headache before 
I went away. Must have come on mighty sudden," said 
Aunt Maria. 

" She said it ached very hard," repeated Lily. "And 
when the door-bell rang, when Mr. Ramsey came — " 

"It's mighty queer she should have had a headache 
when George Ramsey rang the door-bell," said Aunt 



" I guess it must have ached before," said Lily, faintly. 

"I should suppose it must have," Aunt Maria said, 
sarcastically. "I don't see any reason why Maria's 
head should begin to ache when the door-bell rang." 

"Of course," said Lily. "I suppose she just felt she 
couldn't talk, that was all." 

"It's mighty queer," said Aunt Maria. She stood 
quite immovable. She was so stern that even her 
rakishly tipped bonnet did not seem at all funny. She 
looked at Lily and George Ramsey, and did not make a 
movement to remove her wraps. 

Lily took a little, faltering step towards her. 6 4 You 
are all covered with snow, Miss Stillman," she said, in 
her sweet voice. 

"I don't mind a little snow," said iVunt Maria. 

" Won't you take this chair?" asked George Ramsey, 
pointing to the one which he had just vacated. 

41 No, thank you," replied Aunt Maria. " I ain't going 
to sit down. I've got on my best black silk, and I don't 
ever sit down in it when I can help it. I'm going to take 
it off and go to bed." 

Then George Ramsey immediately made a movement 
towards his coat and hat, which lay on the lounge beside 
Lily's wraps. 44 Well," he said, with an attempt to laugh 
and be easy, 44 1 must be going. I have to take an early 
car to-morrow." 

44 1 must go, too," said Lily. 

They both hustled on their outer garments. They 
said good-evening when they went out, but Aunt Maria 
did not reply. She immediately took off Maria's water- 
proof and her bonnet, and slipped off her best black silk 
gown. Then she took the little lamp which was lighted 
in the kitchen and went up - stairs to Maria's room. 
She had an old shawl over her shoulders, otherwise she 
was in her black quilted petticoat. She stepped softly, 
and entered the spare room opposite Maria's. It was 



icy cold in there. She set the lamp on the bureau and 
went out, closing the door softly. It was then quite 
dark in the little passageway between the spare room 
and Maria's. Aunt Maria stood looking sharply at 
Maria's door, especially at the threshold, which was 
separated from the floor quite a space by the shrinkage 
of the years. The panels, too, had their crevices, through 
which light might be seen. It was entirely dark. Aunt 
Maria opened the door of the spare room very softly and 
got the little lamp off the bureau, and tiptoed down- 
stairs. Then she sat down before the sitting-room stove 
and pulled up her quilted petticoat till her thin legs were 
exposed, to warm herself and not injure the petticoat. 
She looked unutterably stern and weary. Suddenly, as 
she sat there, tears began to roll over her ascetic cheeks. 

"Oh, Lord!" she sighed to herself; "to think that 
child has got to go through the world just the way I 
have, when she don't need to!" 

Aunt Maria rose and got a handkerchief out of her 
bureau-drawer in her little bedroom. She did not take 
the one in the pocket of her gown because that was her 
best one, and very fine. Then she sat down again, pulled 
up her petticoat again, put the handkerchief before her 
poor face, and wept for herself and her niece, because of 
a conviction which was over her that for both the joy of 
life was to come only from the windows of others. 


Lily Merrill, going home across the yard through 
the storm, leaning on George Ramsey's arm, gave a little, 
involuntary sob. It was a sob half of the realization of 
slighted affection, half of shame. It gave the little ele- 
ment of strangeness which was lacking to fascinate the 
young man. He had a pitiful heart towards women, 
and at the sound of the little, stifled sob he pressed Lily's 
arm more closely under his own. 

" Don't, Lily," he said, softly. 

Lily sobbed again ; she almost leaned her head towards 
George's shoulder. She made a little, irresistible, nestling 
motion, like a child. 

"I can't help it," she said, brokenly. "She did look 
at me so." 

u Don't mind her one bit, Lily," said George. He half 
laughed at the memory of Aunt Maria's face, even while 
the tender tone sounded in his voice. " Don't mind that 
poor old maid. Neither of us were to blame. I suppose 
it did look as if we had taken possession of her premises, 
and she was astonished, that was all. How funny she 
looked, poor thing, with her bonnet awry!" 

" I know she must think I have done something dread- 
ful," sobbed Lily. 

"Nonsense!" George said again, and his pressure of 
her arm tightened. "I was just going when she came 
in, anyway. There is nothing at all to be ashamed of, 
onlv — " He hesitated. 

"'What?" asked Lily. 

"Well, to tell 3^ou the truth, Lily," he said then, "it 


does look to me as if Miss Edgham's headache was only 
another way of telling me she did not wish to see me." 
"Oh, I guess not," said Lily. 

"For some reason or other she does not seem to like 
me," George said, with rather a troubled voice; but he 
directly laughed. 

"I don't see any reason why she shouldn't like you," 
Lily said. 

They had reached Lily's door, and the light from the 
sitting-room windows shone on her lovely face, past 
which the snow drifted like a white veil. 

"Well, I think she doesn't," George said, carelessly, 
"but you are mighty good to say you see no reason 
why she shouldn't. You and I have always been good 
friends, haven't we, Lily, ever since we went to school 

"Yes," replied Lily, eagerly, although she did not like 
the word friends, which seemed to smite on the heart. 
She lifted her face to the young man's, and her lips 
pouted almost imperceptibly. It could not have been 
said that she was inviting a kiss, but no man could have 
avoided kissing her. George Ramsey kissed her as nat- 
urally as he breathed. There seemed to be nothing 
else to do. It was one of the inevitables of life. Then 
Lily opened the door and slid into the house with a 
tremulous good-night. 

George himself felt tremulous, and also astonished and 
vexed with himself. He had certainly not meant to kiss 
Lily Merrill. But it flashed across his mind that she 
would not think anything of it, that he had kissed her 
often when they were children, and it was the same thing 
now. As he went away he glanced back at the lighted 
windows, and a man's shadow was quite evident. He 
wondered who was calling on Lily's mother, and then 
wondered, with a slight shadow of jealousy, if it could 
be some one who had come to see Lily herself. He re- 



fleeted, as he went homeward through the storm, that a 
girl as pretty as Lily ought to have some one worthy of 
her. He went over in his mind, as he puffed his cigar, 
all the young men in Amity, and it did not seem to him 
that any one of them was quite the man for her. 

When he reached home he found his mother already 
there, warming herself by the sitting-room register. 
She had gone to the tea-party in a carriage (George 
would not have her walk), but she was chilled. She 
was a delicate, pretty woman. She looked up, shivering, 
as George entered. 

" Where have you been, dear?" she asked. 

George laughed, and colored a little. " Well, mother, 
I went to see one young lady arid saw another," he re- 

Just then the maid came in with some hot chocolate, 
which Mrs. Ramsey always drank before she went to 
bed, and she asked no more questions until the girl had 
gone ; then she resumed the conversation. 

"What do you mean, dear?" she inquired, looking 
over the rim of the china cup at her son, with a slight, 
anxious contraction of her forehead. 

"Well, I felt a little lonely after you went, mother, 
and I had nothing especial to do, and it occurred to me 
that I would go over and call on our neighbor." 

"On young Maria Edgham?" 

"Yes, mother." 

V Well, I suppose it was a polite thing for you to do," 
said his mother, mildly, "but I don't quite care for her 
as I do for some girls. She is so very vehement. I do 
like a young girl to be gentle." 

"Well, I didn't see her, mother, in either a gentle or 
vehement mood," said George. "As nearly as I can 
find out, she had a premonition who it was when I rang 
the door-bell, and said she had a headache, and ran up- 
stairs to bed." 



"Why, how do you know?" asked his mother, staring 
at him. " Her aunt was at the tea. Who told you ?" 

"Lily Merrill was there," replied George, and again 
he was conscious of coloring. "She had come to stay 
with Maria because her aunt was going out. She an- 
swered my ring, and so I made a little call on her until 
Miss Stillman returned, and was so surprised to see her 
premises invaded and her niece missing that I think she 
inferred a conspiracy or a burglar. At all events, Lily 
and I were summarily dismissed. I have just seen Lily 

"Lily Merrill is pretty, and I think she is a nice, lady- 
like girl," said Mrs. Ramsey, and she regarded her son 
more uneasily than before, "but I don't like her 
mother, George." 

"Why, what is the matter with Lily's mother?" 

"She isn't genuine. Adeline Merrill was never gen- 
uine. She has always had her selfish ends, and she has 
reached them by crooks and turns." 

"I think Lily is genuine enough," said George, care- 
lessly, putting another lump of sugar in his cup of 
chocolate. "I have seen more brilliant girls, but she is 
a beauty, and I think she is genuine." 

"Well, perhaps she is," Mrs. Ramsey admitted. "I 
don't know her very well, but I do know her mother. 
I know something now." 


"I know you don't like gossip, but if ever a woman 
was — I know it is a vulgar expression — but if ever a 
woman was setting her cap for a man, she is setting hers 
for Dr. Ellridge. She never goes anywhere evenings, in 
the hope that he may call, and she sends for him when 
there is nothing whatever the matter with her, if he 
doesn't. I know, because Dr. Ellridge's wife's sister, 
Miss Emmons, who has kept house for him since his wife 
died, told me so. He goes home and tells her, and laughs, 



but I know she isn't quite sure that the doctor won't 
marry her." 

"Miss Emmons is jealous, perhaps," said George. 
"Perhaps Mrs. Merrill is really ill." 

"No, the doctor says she is not, and Miss Emmons is 
not jealous. She told me that as far as she was con- 
cerned, although she would lose her home, she should 
be glad to see the doctor married, if he chose a suitable 
woman; but I don't think she likes Mrs. Merrill. I 
don't see how anybody can like a woman who so openly 
proclaims her willingness to marry a man before he has 
done her the honor to ask her. It seems shameless to 

"Perhaps she doesn't," George said again. Then he 
added, "It would be rather hard for Lily if her mother 
did marry the doctor. He is a good man enough, but 
with his own three girls, the oldest older than Lily, she 
would have a hard time." 

George looked quite sober, reflecting upon the possible 
sad lot of poor Lily if her mother married the second 

"Adeline Merrill wouldn't stop for such a thing as the 
feelings of her own daughter, if she had her mind set on 
anything," said his mother, in her soft voice, which 
seemed to belie the bitterness of her words. She was 
not in reality bitter at all, not even towards Mrs. Merrill, 
but she had clearly defined rules of conduct for gentle- 
women, and she mentioned it when these rules were 

"Well, mother dear, I can't see that it is likely to 
make much difference to either you or me, anyway," 
said George, and his mother felt consoled. She told her- 
self that it was not possible that George thought serious- 
ly of Lily, or he would not speak so. 

"Miss Stillman is very eccentric," she remarked, de- 
parting from the subject. " I offered to bring her home 

21 311 


with me in the carriage. I knew you wculd not mind 
the extra money. She has such a cold that I really 
wondered that she came at all in such a storm; but, no, 
she seemed fairly indignant at the idea. I never saw 
any one so proud. I asked Mrs. Henry Stillman, but 
she did not like to have her sister-in-law to go alone, so 
she would not accept, either; but Miss Stillman walked 
herself, and made her sister walk, too, and I am positive 
it was because she was proud. Do you really mean you 
think young Maria did not want to see you, George?" 

"It looked like it," George replied, laughing. 

"Why?" asked his mother. 

"How do I know, mother dear? I don't think Miss 
Edgham altogether approves of me for some reason." 

"I should like to know what reason she has for not 
approving of you," cried his mother, jealously. She 
looked admiringly at her son, who was handsome, with 
a sort of rugged beauty, and whose face displayed 
strength, and honesty not to be questioned. "I would 
like to know who Maria Edgham thinks she is. She is 
rather pretty, but she cannot compare with Lily Merrill 
as far as that goes, and she is teaching a little district 
school, and from what I have seen of her, her manners 
are subject to criticism. She is not half as lady -like as 
other girls in Amity. When I think of the way she flew 
in here and attacked us for not clothing those disrepu- 
table people across the river, just because they have the 
same name, I can't help being indignant. I never heard 
of a young girl's doing such a thing. And I think that 
if she ran off when the bell rang, because she thought it 
was you, it was certainly very rude. I think she virtu- 
ally ascribed more meaning to your call than there 

"Lily said she had a headache," said George, but his 
own face assumed an annoyed expression. That version 
of Maria's flight had not occurred to him, and he was a 



very proud fellow. When he went up -stairs to his own 
room he continued wondering whether it was possible 
that Maria, remembering their childish love-affair, could 
have really dreamed that he had called that evening with 
serious intentions, and he grew more and more indignant 
at the idea. Then the memory of that soft, hardly 
returned kiss which he had given Lily came to him, and 
now he did not feel vexed with himself because of it. 
He was quite certain that Lily was too gentle and timid 
to think for a minute that he meant anything more than 
their old childish friendship. The memory of the kiss 
became very pleasant to him, and he seemed to feel 
Lily's lips upon his own like a living flower which thrilled 
the heart. The next morning, when he took the trolley- 
car in front of his house, Maria was just passing on her 
way to school. She was wading rather wearily, yet still 
sturdily, through the snow. It had cleared during the 
night, and there were several inches of drifted snow in 
places, although some portions of the road were as bare 
as if swept by a broom of the winds. 

Maria, tramping through the snow, which was deep 
just there, merely glanced at George Ramsey, and said 
good-morning. She had plenty of time, if she had 
chosen to do so, to express her regrets at not seeing him 
the evening before, for the car had not yet reached him. 
But she said nothing except good-morning, and George 
responded rather curtly, raising his hat, and stepping for- 
ward towards the car. He felt it to be unmistakable that 
Maria wished him to understand that she did not care 
for his particular acquaintance, and the sting which his 
mother had suggested the evening before, that she must 
consider that his attentions were significant, or she 
would not take so much trouble to repulse them, came 
over him again. He boarded the car, which was late, 
and moving sluggishly through the snow. It came to a 
full stop in front of the Merrill house, and George saw 



Lily's head behind a stand of ferns in one of the front 
windows. He raised his hat, and she bowed, and he 
could see her blush even at that distance. He thought 
again, comfortably, that Lily, remembering their childish 
caresses, could attach no importance to what had hap- 
pened the night before, and yet a thrill of tenderness and 
pleasure shot through him, and he seemed to feel again 
the flower-like touch of her lips. It was a solace for any 
man, after receiving such an unmistakable rebuff as he 
had just received from Maria Edgham. He had no con- 
ception of the girl plodding through the snow to her 
daily task. He did not dream that she saw, instead of 
the snowy road before, a long stretch of dreary future, 
brought about by that very rebuff. But she was quite 
merciless with herself. She would not yield for a mo- 
ment to regrets. She accepted that stretch of dreary 
future with a defiant acquiescence. She bowed pleasant- 
ly to the acquaintances whom she met. They were not 
many that morning, for the road was hardly passable 
in places, being overcurved here and there with blue, 
diamond-crested, snowlike cascades, and now presenting 
ridges like graves. Half-way to the school-house, Maria 
saw the village snow-plough, drawn by a struggling 
horse and guided by^ a red-faced man. She stood aside 
to let it pass. The man did not look at her. He frowned 
ahead at his task. He was quite an old man, and bent, 
but with the red of youth brought forth in his cheeks by 
the frosty air. 

" Everybody has to work in some way," Maria thought, 
' 'and very few get happiness for their labor." 

She reflected how soon that man would be lying stiff 
and stark under the wintry snows and the summer heats, 
and how nothing which might trouble him now would 
matter. She reflected that, although she herself was 
younger and had presumably longer to live, that the 
time would inevitably come when even such unhappi- 



ness as weighed her down this morning would not 
matter. She continued in the ineffectual track which 
the snow-plough had made, with a certain pleasure in 
the exertion. All Maria's heights of life, her mountain- 
summits which she would agonize to reach, were spiritual. 
Labor in itself could never daunt her. Always her 
spirit, the finer essence of her, would soar butterfly-like 
above her toiling members. 

It was a beautiful morning; the trees were heavily 
bent with snow, which gave out lustres like jewels. The 
air had a very purity of life in it. Maria inhaled the 
frosty, clear air, and regarded the trees as one might have 
done who was taking a stimulant. She kept her mind 
upon them, and would not think of George Ramsey. 
As she neared the school -house, the first child who ran 
to meet her, stumbling through the snow, was little 
Jessy Ramsey. Maria forced herself to meet smilingly 
the upward, loving look of those blue Ramsey eyes. 
She bent down and kissed Jessy, and the little thing 
danced at her side in a rapture. 

"They be awful warm, my close, teacher, " said she. 

" My clothes are very warm, teacher," corrected Maria, 

"My clothes are very warm, teacher," said Jessy, 

Maria caught the child up in her arms (she was a tiny, 
half -fed little thing), and kissed her again. Somehow 
she got a measure of comfort from it. After all, love 
was love, in whatever guise it came, and this was an 
innocent love which she could admit with no question. 

"That's a good little girl, dear," she said, and set 
Jessy down. 


Maria did not go home for the Christmas holidays. 
She was very anxious to do so, but she received a letter 
from Ida Edgham which made her resolve to remain 
wh$re she was. 

"We should be so very glad to have you come home 
for the holidays, dear/' wrote Ida, "but of course we 
know how long the journey is, and how little you are 
earning, and we are all well. Your father seems quite 
well, and so we shall send you some little remembrance, 
and try to console ourselves as best we can for your 
absence.' ' 

Maria read the letter to her aunt Maria. 
"You won't go one step ?" said Aunt Maria, interroga- 

"No," said Maria. She was quite white. Nobody 
knew how she had longed to see her father and little 
Evelyn, and she had planned to go, and take Aunt Maria 
with her, defraying the expenses out of her scanty earn- 

"I wouldn't go if you were to offer me a thousand 
dollars," said Aunt Maria. 

"I would not, either," responded Maria. She opened 
the stove door and thrust the letter in, and watched it 

" How your father ever came to marry that woman — " 
said Aunt Maria. 

"There's no use talking about that now," said Maria, 
arousing to defence of her father. "She was very 



" Pretty enough,' ' said Aunt Maria, 4 'and I miss my 
guess if she didn't do most of the courting. Well, as you 
say, there is no use talking it over now. What's done 
is done." 

Aunt Maria watched Maria's pitiful young face with 
covert glances. Maria was finishing a blouse which she 
had expected to wear on her journey. She continued 
her work with resolution, but every line on her face took 
a downward curve. 

" You don't need to hurry so on that waist now," said 
Aunt Maria. 

"I want the waist, anyway," replied her niece. "I 
may as well get it done." 

" You will have to send the Christmas presents," said 
Aunt Maria. "I don't very well see how you can pack 
some of them." 

"I guess I can manage," said Maria. 

The next day her week of vacation began. She pack- 
ed the gifts which she had bought for her father and 
Evelyn and Ida, and took them to the express office. 
The day after that she received the remembrances of 
which Ida spoke. They were very pretty. Aunt Maria 
thought them extravagant. Ida had sent her a tiny 
chatelaine watch, and her father a ring set with a little 
diamond. Maria knew perfectly well how her father's 
heart ached when he sent the ring. She never for one 
moment doubted him. She wrote him a most loving 
letter, and even a deceptive letter, because of her affec- 
tion. She repeated what Ida had written, that it was a 
long journey, and expensive, and she did not think it 
best for her to go home, although she had longed to 
do so. 

Ida sent Aunt Maria a set of Shakespeare. When it 
was unpacked, Aunt Maria looked shrewdly at her niece. 

"How many sets of Shakespeare has she got?" she 
inquired. " Do you know, Maria ?" 



Maria admitted that she thought she had two. 

''I miss my guess but she has another exactly just 
like this," said Aunt Maria. " Well, I don't mean to be 
ungrateful, and I know Shakespeare is called a great 
writer, and they who like him can read him. I would 
no more sit down and read all those books through, my- 
self, than I would read Webster's Dictionary." 

Maria laughed. 

" You can take this set of books up in your room, if 
you want them," said Aunt Maria. "For my part I 
consider it an insult for her to send Shakespeare to me. 
She must have known I had never had anything to do 
with Shakespeare. She might just as well have sent me 
a crown. Now, your father he has more sense. He 
sent me this five-dollar gold-piece so I could buy what 
I wanted with it. He knew that he didn't know what 
I wanted. Your father's a good man, Maria, but he was 
weak when he married her; I've got to say it." 

" I don't think father was weak at all!" Maria retorted, 
with spirit. 

"Of course, I expect you to stand up for your father, 
that is right. I wouldn't have you do anything else," 
Aunt Maria said approvingly. "But he was weak." 

"She could have married almost anybody," said 
Maria, gathering up the despised set of books. She was 
very glad of them to fill up the small bamboo bookcase in 
her own room, and, beside, she did not share her aunt's 
animosity to Shakespeare. She purchased some hand- 
kerchiefs for her aunt, with the covert view of recom- 
pensing her for the loss of Ida's present, and Aunt Maria 
was delighted with them. 

"If she had had the sense to send me half a dozen 
handkerchiefs like these," said she, "I should have 
thanked her. Anybody in their senses would rather 
have half a dozen nice handkerchiefs than a set of 
Shakespeare. That is, if they said just what they 



meant. I know some folks would be ashamed of not 
thinking much of Shakespeare. As for me, I say what 
I mean." Aunt Maria tossed her head as she spoke. 

She grew daily more like her brother Henry. The 
family traits in each became more accentuated. Each 
posed paradoxically as not being a poser. Aunt Maria 
spoke her mind so freely and arrogantly that she was 
not much of a favorite in Amity, although she command- 
ed a certain measure of respect from her strenuous exer- 
tions at her own trumpet, which more than half-con- 
vinced people of the accuracy of her own opinion of 
herself. Sometimes Maria herself was irritated by her 
aunt, but she loved her dearly. She was always aware, 
too, of Aunt Maria's unspoken, but perfect approbation 
and admiration for herself, Maria, and of a certain sym- 
pathy for her, which the elder woman had the delicacy 
never to speak of. She had become aware that Maria, 
while vShe repulsed George Ramsey, was doing so for rea- 
sons which she could not divine, and that she suffered 
because of it. 

One afternoon, not long after Christmas, when Maria 
returned from school, almost the first words which her 
aunt said to her were, "I do hate to see a young man 
made a fool of." 

Maria turned pale, and looked at her aunt. 

"George Ramsey went past here sleigh-riding with 
Lily Merrill a little while ago," said Aunt Maria. "That 
girl's making a fool of him!" 

"Lily is a nice girl, Aunt Maria," Maria said, faintly. 

"Nice enough, but she can't come up to him. She 
never can. And when one can't come up, the other has 
to go down. I've seen it too many times not to know. 
There's sleigh-bells now. I guess it's them coming back. 
Yes, it is." 

Maria did not glance out of the window, and the sleigh, 
with its singing bells, flew past. She went wearily up to 



her own room, and removed her wraps before supper. 
Maria had a tiny coal-stove in her room now, and that 
was a great comfort to her. She could get away by 
herself, when she chose, and sometimes the necessity for 
so doing was strong upon her. She wished to think, 
without Aunt Maria's sharp eyes upon her, searching 
her thoughts. Emotion in Maria was reaching its high- 
water mark; the need for concealing, lest it be profaned 
by other eyes, was over her. Maria felt, although she 
was conscious of her aunt's covert sympathy for some- 
thing that troubled her which she did not know about, 
and grateful for it, that she should die of shame if Aunt 
Maria did know. After supper that night she returned 
to her own room. She said she had some essays to 

"Well, I guess I'll step into the other side a minute," 
said Aunt Maria. "Eunice went to the sewing-meeting 
this afternoon, and I want to know what they put in 
that barrel for that minister out West. I don't believe 
they had enough to half fill it. Of all the things they 
sent the last time, there wasn't anything fit to be seen." 

Maria seated herself in her own room, beside her tiny 
stove. She had a pink shade on her lamp, which stood 
on her little centre-table. The exercises were on the 
table, but she had not touched them when she heard 
doors opening and shutting below, then a step on the 
stairs. She knew at once it was Lily. Her room door 
opened, after a soft knock, and Lily glided gracefully in. 

"I knew you were up here, dear," she said. "I saw 
your light, and I saw your aunt's sitting-room lamp 
go out." 

"Aunt Maria has only gone in Uncle Henry's side. 
Sit down, Lily," said Maria, rising and returning Lily's 
kiss, and placing a chair for her. 

"Does she always put her lamp out when she goes in 
there?" asked Lily with innocent wonder. 



"Yes," replied Maria, rather curtly. That was one 
of poor Aunt Maria's petty economies, and she was sen- 
sitive with regard to it. A certain starvation of char- 
acter, which had resulted from the lack of material 
wealth, was evident in Aunt Maria, and her niece rec- 
ognized the fact with exceeding pity, and a sense of 
wrong at the hands of Providence. 

"How very funny, " said Lily. 

Maria said nothing. Lily had seated herself in the chair 
placed for her, and as usual had at once relapsed into a 
pose which would have done credit to an artist's model, 
a pose of which she was innocently conscious. She cast 
approving glances at the graceful folds of crimson cash- 
mere which swept over her knees ; she extended one little 
foot in its pointed shoe; she raised her arms with a 
gesture peculiar to her and placed them behind her head 
in such a fashion that she seemed to embrace herself. 
Lily in crimson cashmere, which lent its warm glow to 
her tender cheeks, and even seemed to impart a rosy 
reflection to the gloss of her hair, was ravishing. To- 
night, too, her face wore a new expression, one of tri- 
umphant tenderness, which caused her to look fairly 

"It has been a lovely day, hasn't it?" she said. 
"Very pleasant," said Maria. 

"Did you know I went sleigh-riding this afternoon?" 
"Did you?" 

"Yes; George took me out." 
"That was nice," said Maria. 

"We went to Wayland. The sleighing is lovely." 
"I thought it looked so," said Maria. 
"It is. Say, Maria!" 

"He said things to me this afternoon that sounded as 
if he did mean them. He did, really." 
"Did he?" 



"Do you want me to tell you?" asked Lily, eying 
Maria happily and yet a little timidly. 

Maria straightened herself. "If you want to know 
what I really think, Lily," she said, "I think no girl 
should repeat anything a man says to her, if she does 
think he really means it. I think it is between the 
two. I think it should be held sacred. I think the 
girl cheapens it by repeating it, and I don't think it is 
fair to the man. I don't care to hear what Mr. Ramsey 
said, if you want the truth, Lily." 

Lily looked abashed. "I dare say you are right, 
Maria," she said, meekly. "I won't repeat anything he 
said if you don't think I ought, and don't want to hear 

"Is your new dress done?" asked Maria, abruptly. 

" It is going to be finished this week," said Lily. " Do 
you think I am horrid, proposing to tell you what he 
said, Maria?" 

"No, only I don't care to hear any more about it." 

"Well, I hope you don't think I am horrid." 

"I don't, dear," said Maria, with an odd sensation of 
tenderness for the other, weaker girl, whom she had 
handled in a measure roughly with her own stronger 
character. She looked admiringly at her as she spoke. 
"Nobody can ever really think you horrid," she said. 

"If they did, I should think I was horrid my own 
self," said Lily, with the ready acquiescence in the 
opinion of another which signified the deepest admira- 
tion, even to her own detriment, and was the redeeming 
note in her character. 

Maria laughed. "I declare, Lily," said she, "I hope 
you will never be accused of a crime, for I do believe 
even if you were innocent, you would side with the law- 
yer for the prosecution." 

"I don't know but I should," said Lily. 

Then she ventured to say something more about 


George Ramsey, encouraged by Maria's friendliness, but 
she met with such scanty sympathy that she refrained. 
She arose soon, and said she thought she must go home. 

"I am tired to-night, and I think I had better go to 
bed early," she said. 

" Don't hurry," Maria said, conventionally; but Lily 
kissed Maria and went. 

Maria knew that her manner had driven Lily away, 
but she did not feel as if she could endure hearing her 
confidences, and Lily's confidences had all the impetus 
of a mountain stream. Had she remained, they could 
not have been finally checked. Maria moved her win- 
dow curtains slightly and watched Lily flitting across 
the yard. She saw her enter the door, and also saw, 
quite distinctly the shadow of a man upon the white 
curtain as he rose to greet her when she entered. She 
wondered whether the man was Dr. Ellridge, or George 
Ramsey. The shadow looked like that of the older 
man, she thought, and she was not mistaken. 

Lily, on entering the sitting-room, found Dr. Ellridge 
with her mother, and her mother's face was flushed, 
and she had a conscious simper. Lily said good-even- 
ing, and sat down as usual with her fancy-work, after 
she had removed her wraps, but soon her mother said 
to her that there was a good fire in her own room, and 
she thought that she had better go to bed early, as she 
must be tired, and Dr. Ellridge echoed her with rather 
a foolish expression. 

"I don't think you ought to sit up late working on 
embroidery, Lily," he said. " You are looking tired to- 
night. You must let me prescribe for you a glass of 
hot milk and bed." 

Lily looked at both of them with wondering gentle- 
ness, then she rose. 

"There is a good fire in the kitchen," said her mother, 
" and Hannah will heat the milk for you. You had bet- 



ter do as Dr. Ellridge said. You are going out to-mor- 
row night, too, you know." 

Lily said good-night, and went out with a smouldering 
disquiet in her heart. When she asked Hannah out 
in the kitchen to heat the milk for her, because Dr. 
Ellridge said she must drink it and then go to bed, the 
girl, who had been long with the family and considered 
that she in reality was the main-spring of the house, eyed 
her curiously. 

"Said you had better go to bed?" said she. "Why, 
it isn't nine o'clock!" 

"He said I looked tired, Hannah," said Lily faintly. 

Hannah, who was a large, high - shouldered Nova 
Scotia girl, with a large, flat face obscured with freckles, 
sniffed. Lily heard her say quite distinctly as she went 
into the pantry for the milk, that she called it a shame 
when there were so many grown-up daughters to think 
of, for her part. 

Lily knew what she meant. She sat quite pale and 
still while the milk was heating, and then drank it meek- 
ly, said good-night to Hannah and went up-stairs. 

She could not go to sleep, although she went at once 
to bed, and extinguished her lamp. She lay there and 
heard a clock down in the hall strike the hours. The 
clock had struck twelve, and she had not heard Dr. 
Ellridge go. The whole situation filled her with a sort 
of wonder of disgust. She could not imagine her mother 
and Dr. Ellridge sitting up until midnight as she might 
sit up with George Ramsey. She felt as if she were 
witnessing a ghastly inversion of things, as if Love, in- 
stead of being in his proper panoply of wings and roses, 
was invested with a medicine-case, an obsolete frock- 
coat, and elderly obesity. Dr. Ellridge was quite stout. 
She wondered how her mother could, and then she 
wondered how Dr. Ellridge could. Lily loved her 
mother, but she had relegated her to what she con- 

3 2 4 


sidered her proper place in the scheme of things, and now 
she was overstepping it. Lily called to mind vividly the 
lines on her mother's face, her matronly figure. It 
seemed to her that her mother had had her time of love 
with her father, and this was as abnormal as two springs 
in one year. Shortly after twelve, Lily heard a soft 
murmur of voices in the hall, then the front door close. 
Then her mother came up-stairs and entered her room. 

"Are you asleep, Lily?" she whispered, softly, and 
Lily recognized with shame the artificiality of the 

"No, mother, I am not asleep," she replied, quite 

Her mother came and sat down on the bed beside her. 
She patted Lily's cheeks, and felt for her hand. Lily's 
impulse was to snatch it away, but she was too gentle. 
She let it remain passively in her mother's nervous clasp. 

"Lily, my dear child, I have something to tell you," 
whispered Mrs. Merrill. 

Lily said nothing. 

"Lily, my precious child," said her mother, in her 
strained whisper. "I don't know whether you have 
suspected anything or not, but I am meditating a great 
change in my life. I have been very lonely since your 
dear father died, and I never had a nature to live alone 
and be happy. You might as well expect the vine to 
live without its tree. I have made up my mind that 
I shall be much happier, and Dr. Ellridge will. He 
needs the sympathy and love of a wife. His daughters 
do as well as they can, but a daughter is not like a 

"Oh, mother!" said Lily. Then she gave a little sob. 
Her mother bent over and kissed her, and Lily smelled 
Dr. Ellridge's cigar, and she thought also medicine. 
She shrank away from her mother, and sobbed con- 



"My dear child," said Mrs. Merrill, "you need not feel 
so badly. There will be no change in your life until 
you yourself marry. We shall live right along here. 
This house is larger and more convenient than the doc- 
tor's. He will rent his house, and we shall live here." 

"And all those Ellridge girls," sobbed Lily. 

"They are very nice girls, dear. Florence and Amelia 
will room together; they can have the southeast room. 
Mabel, I suppose, will have to go in the best chamber. 
Perhaps, by -and -by, Dr. Ellridge will finish off an- 
other room for her. I don't quite like the idea of 
having no spare room. But you will keep your own 
room, and you will be all the happier for having three 
nice sisters." 

"I never liked them," sobbed Lily. It really seemed 
to her that she was called upon to marry the Ellridge 
girls, and that was the main issue. 

"They are very nice girls," repeated Mrs. Merrill, and 
there was obstinacy in her artificially sweet tone. "Ev- 
erybody says they are very nice girls. You certainly 
would not wish your mother to give up her chance of a 
happy life, because you have an unwarrantable prejudice 
against the poor doctor's daughters." 

" You have been married once," said Lily, feebly. It 
was as if she made a faint remonstrance because of her 
mother, who had already had her reasonable share of 
cake, taking a second slice. She had too sweet a dispo- 
sition to say bitter things, but the bitterness of the 
things she might have said was in her heart. 

" I suppose you think because I am older it is foolish," 
said her mother, in an aggressive voice. " Wait till you 
yourself are older and you may know how I feel. You 
may find out that you cannot give up all the joys of life 
because you have been a few years longer in the world. 
You may not feel so very different from what you do 
now." Mrs. Me./ Ill's voice rang true in this last. There 



was even a pathetic appeal to her daughter for sympathy. 
But Lily continued to sob weakly, and did not say any 

"Well, good-night, my dear child, " Mrs. Merrill said 
finally. "You will feel very differently about all this 
later on. You will come to see, as I do, that it is for the 
best. You will be much happier/ ' Mrs. Merrill kissed 
Lily again, and went out. She closed the door with a 
slight slam. 

Lily knew that her mother was angry with her. As 
for herself, she considered that she had never been so 
unhappy in her whole life. She thought of living with 
the Ellridge girls, who were really of a common cast, 
and always with Dr. Ellridge at the head of the table, 
dictating to her as he had done to-night, in his smooth, 
slightly satirical way, and her whole soul rose in revolt. 
She felt sure that Dr. Ellridge was not at all in love 
with her mother, as George Ramsey might be in love 
with herself. All the romance had been sucked out of 
them both years before. She called to mind again her 
mother's lined face, her too aggressive curves, her tightly 
frizzed hair, and she knew that she was right. She re- 
membered hearing that Dr. Ellridge's daughters were 
none of them domestic, that he had hard work to keep a 
house-keeper, that his practice was declining. She re- 
membered how shabby and mean his little house had 
looked when she had passed it in the sleigh with George 
Ramsey, that very day. She said to herself that Dr. 
Ellridge was only marrying her mother for the sake of 
the loaves and fishes, for a pretty, well-kept home for 
himself and his daughters. Lily had something of a 
business turn in spite of her feminity. She calculated 
how much rent Dr. Ellridge could get for his own 
house. That will dress the girls, she thought. She 
knew that her mother's income was considerable. Dr. 
Ellridge would be immeasurably better off as far as this 

22 327 


world's goods went. There was no doubt of that. Lily 
felt such a measure of revolt and disgust that it was 
fairly like a spiritual nausea. Her own maiden inno- 
cence seemed assaulted, and besides that there was a 
sense of pitiful grief and wonder that her mother, besides 
whom she had nobody in the world, could so betray her. 
She was like the proverbial child with its poor little nose 
out of joint. She lay and wept like one. The next 
morning, when she went down to breakfast, her pretty 
face was pale and woe-begone. Her mother gave one 
defiant glance at her, then spooned out the cereal with 
vehemence. Hannah gave a quick, shrewd glance at 
her when she set the saucer containing the smoking mess 
before her. 

''Her mother has told her," she thought. She also 
thought that she herself would give notice were it not 
for poor Miss Lily. 

Lily's extreme gentleness, even when she was dis- 
tressed, was calculated to inspire faithfulness in every 
one. Hannah gave more than one pitying, indignant 
glance at the girl's pretty, sad face. Lily did not dream 
of sulking to jjfee extent of not eating her breakfast. 
She ate just as usual. She even made a remark about 
the weather to her mother, although in a little, weeping 
voice, as if the weather itself, although it was a brilliant 
morning, were a source of misery. Mrs. Merrill replied 
curtly. Lily took another spoonful of her cereal. 

She remained in her own room the greater part of the 
day. In the afternoon her mother, without saying any- 
thing to her, took the trolley for Westbridge. Lily 
thought with a shiver that she might be going over 
there to purchase some article for her trousseau. The 
thought of her mother with a trousseau caused her to 
laugh a little, hysterical laugh, as she sat alone in her 
chamber. That evening she and her mother went to 
a concert in the town hall. Lily knew that Dr. Ell- 



ridge would accompany her mother home. She won- 
dered what she should do, what she should be ex- 
pected to do — take the doctor's other arm, or walk 
behind. She had seen the doctor with two of his 
daughters seated, when she and her mother passed 
up the aisle. She knew that the two daughters would 
go home together, and the doctor would go with her 
mother. She thought of George Ramsey. Now and 
then as the concert proceeded she twisted her neck 
slightly and peered around, but she saw nothing of him. 
She concluded that he was not there. But when the con- 
cert was over, and she and her mother were passing out 
the door, and Dr. Ellridge was pressing close to her 
mother, under a fire of hostile glances from his daughters, 
Lily felt a touch on her own arm. She turned, and 
saw George Ramsey's handsome face with a quiver of 
unutterable bliss. She took his arm, and followed her 
mother and Dr. Ellridge. When they were out in the 
frosty air, under a low sky sparkling with multitudi- 
nous stars traversed by its mysterious nebulous high- 
way of the gods, this poor little morsel of a mortal, en- 
grossed with her poor little troubles, answered a remark 
of George's concerning the weather in a trembling voice. 
Then she began to weep unreservedly. George with a 
quick glance around, drew her around a corner which 
they had just reached into a street which afforded a 
circuitous route home, and which was quite deserted. 

"Why Lily, what in the world is the matter?" he 
said. There was absolutely nothing in his voice or his 
heart at the time except friendliness and honest concern 
for his old playmate's distress. 

" Mother is going to be married to Dr. Ellridge," 
whispered Lily, "and he and his three horrid daughters 
are all coming to live at our house." 

George whistled. 

Lily sobbed quite aloud. 



"Hush, poor little girl," said George. He glanced 
around; there was not a soul to be seen. Lily's head 
seemed to droop as naturally towards his shoulder as a 
flower towards the sun. A sudden impulse of tender- 
ness, the tenderness of the strong for the weak, of man 
for woman, came over the young fellow. Before he well 
knew what he was doing, his arm had passed around 
Lily's waist, and the pretty head quite touched his 
shoulder. George gave one last bitter thought towards 
Maria, then he spoke. 

"Well," he said, "don't cry, Lily dear. If your 
mother is going to marry Dr. Ellridge, suppose you 
get married too. Suppose you marry me, and come 
and live at my house." 


The next morning, before Maria had started for 
school, Lily Merrill came running across the yard, and 
knocked at the side door. She always knocked unless 
she was quite sure that Maria was alone. She was afraid 
of her aunt. Aunt Maria opened the door, and Lily 
shrank a little before her, in spite of the wonderful 
glowing radiance which lit her lovely face that morning. 

"Good-morning, Miss Stillman, ,, said Lily, timidly. 

"Well?" said Aunt Maria. The word was equivalent 
to "What do you want?" 

"Has Maria gone?" asked Lily. 

"No, she is getting dressed." 

"Can I run up to her room and see her a minute? I 
have something particular I want to tell her." 

"I don't know whether she'd want anybody to come 
up while she's dressing or not," said Aunt Maria. 

" I don't believe she'd mind me," said Lily, pleadingly. 
"Would you mind calling up and asking her, please, 
Miss Stillman?" 

"Well," said Aunt Maria. 

She actually closed the door and left Lily standing in 
the bitter wind while she spoke to Maria. Lily heard 
her faintly calling. 

" Say, Maria, that Merrill girl is at the door, and wants 
to know if she can come a minute. She's got something 
she wants to tell you." 

Then Aunt Maria opened the door. "I suppose you 
can go up," she said, ungraciously. The radiance in 
Lily's face filled her with hostility, she did not know why. 



41 Oh, thank you!" cried Lily; and ran into the house 
and up the stairs to Maria's room. 

Maria was standing before the glass brushing her hair, 
which was very long, and bright, and thick. Lily went 
straight to her and threw her arms around her and 
began to weep. Maria pushed her aside gently. 

"Why, what is the matter, Lily?" she asked. " Ex- 
cuse me, but I must finish my hair ; I have no more than 
time. What is the matter?" 

"Nothing is the matter," sobbed Lily, "only — Oh 
Maria I am so happy! I have not slept a wink all 
night I was so happy. Oh, you don't know how happy 
I am!" 

Maria's face turned deadly white. She swept the 
glowing lengths of her hair over it with a deft move- 
ment. "Why, what makes you so happy?" she asked, 

" Oh, Maria, he was in earnest, he was. I am engaged 

to George." 

Maria brushed her hair. "I am very glad," she said, 
in an unfaltering voice. She bent her head, bringing 
her hair entirely over her face, preparatory to making a 
great knot on the top of her head. " I hope you will be 
very happy." 

"Happy!" said Lily. "Oh, Maria, you don't know 
how happy I am!" 

"I am very glad," Maria repeated, brushing her hair 
smoothly from her neck. "He seems like a very fine 
voung man. I think you have made a wise choice, 

Lily flung herself into a chair and looked at Maria. 
"Oh, Maria dear," she said, "I wish you were as happy 
as I. I hope you will be some time." 

Maria laughed, and there was not a trace of bitterness 
in her laugh. "Well, I shall not cry if I never am" she 
said. "What a little goose you are, Lily, to erf IT She 



swept the hair back from her face, and her color had 
returned. She looked squarely at Lily's reflection in 
the glass, and there was an odd, triumphant expression 
on her face. 

"I can't help it," sobbed Lily. "I always have cried 
when I was very happy, and I never was so happy as 
this; and last night, before he — before George asked 
me — I was so miserable I wanted to die. Only think, 
Maria, mother is going to marry Dr. Ellridge, and he 
and his three horrid girls are coming to live at our 
house. I don't know how I could have stood it if 
George hadn't asked me. Now I shall live with him in 
his house, of course, with his mother. I have always 
liked George's mother. I think she is sweet." 

" Yes, she is a very sweet woman, and I should think 
you could live very happily with her," said Maria, twist- 
ing her hair carefully. Maria had a beautiful neck 
showing above the lace of her underwaist. Lily looked 
at it. Her tears had ceased, and left not a trace on her 
smooth cheeks. The lace which Maria's upward-turned 
hair displayed had set her flexible mind into a new 

"Say, Maria," she said, "it is to be a very short 
engagement. It will have to be, on account of mother. 
A double wedding would be too ridiculous, and I want 
to get away before all those Ellridges come into our 
house. Dr. Ellridge can't let his house before spring, 
and so I think in a month, if I can get ready." Lily 
blushed until her face was like the heart of a rose. 

"Well, you have a number of very pretty dresses 
now," said Maria. "I should think you could get 

" I shall have to get a wedding-dress made, and a tea- 
gown, and one besides for receiving calls," said Lily. 
"Then I must have some underwear. Will you go shop- 
ping with me in Westbridge some Saturday, Maria?" 



"I should be very glad to do so, dear," replied 

44 That is very pretty lace on your waist/' Lily said, 
meditatively. "I think I shall get ready-made things. 
It takes so much time to make them one's self, and be- 
sides I think they are just as pretty. Don't you?" 

" I think one can buy very pretty ready-made things," 
Maria said. She slipped on her blouse and fastened her 

"I shall be so much obliged to you if you will go," 
said Lily. " I won't ask mother. To tell you the truth. 
Maria, I think it is dreadful that she is going to marry 
again — a widower with three grown-up daughters, too." 

"I don't see why," Maria said, dropfjing her black 
skirt over her head. 

"You don't see why?" 

"No, not if it makes her happy. People have a right 
to all the happiness they can get, at all ages. I used to 
think myself that older people were silly to want things 
like young people, but now I have changed my mind. 
Dr. Ellridge is a good man, and I dare say your mother 
will be happier, especially if you are going away." 

" Oh, if she had not been going to get married herself, 
I should rather have lived at home, after I was mar- 
ried," said Lily. She looked reflectively at Maria as 
she fastened her belt. "It's queer," she said, "but I 
do believe my feeling so terribly about mother's marry- 
ing made George ask me sooner. Of course, he must 
have meant to ask me some time, or he would not have 
asked me at all." 

"Of course," said Maria, getting her hat from the 

"But he walked home with me from the concert last 
night, and I couldn't help crying, I felt so dreadfully. 
Then he asked me what the matter was, and I told him, 
and then he asked me right away. I think maybe he 



had thought of waiting a little, but that hastened him. 
Oh, Maria, I am so happy!" 

Maria fastened on her hat carefully. "I am very 
glad, dear," she said. She turned from the glass, and 
Lily's face, smiling at her, seemed to give out light like 
a star. It might not have been the highest affection 
which the girl, who was one of clear and limpid shadows 
rather than depths, felt; it might have had its roots in 
selfish ends; but it fairly glorified her. Maria with a 
sudden impulse bent over her and kissed her. "I am 
very glad, dear," she said, "and now I must run, or I 
shall be late. My coat is down-stairs." 

"Don't say anything before your aunt Maria, will 
you?" said Lily, rising and following her. 

"No, of course, if you don't want me to." 

" Of course it will be all over town before night." said 
Lily, "but someway I w T ould rather your aunt Maria 
did not hear it from me. She doesn't like me a bit." 
Lily said the last in a whisper. 

Both girls went down-stairs, and Maria took her coat 
from the rack in the hall. 

Aunt Maria opened the sitting-room door. She had 
a little satchel with Maria's lunch. "Here is your 
luncheon," said she, in a hard tone, "and you'd bet- 
ter hurry and not stop to talk, or you'll be late." 

"I am going right away, Aunt Maria," said Maria. 
She took the satchel, and kissed her aunt on her thin, 
sallow cheek. 

"Good-morning, Miss Stillman," said Lily, sweetly, 
as she followed Maria. 

Aunt Maria said nothing at all ; she gave Lily a grim 
nod, while her lips were tightly compressed. She turned 
the key in the door with an audible snap. 

"Well, good-bye, dear," said Lily to Maria. "I hope 
you will be as happy as I am some day, and I know 
you will." 



Lily's face was entirely sweet and womanly as she 
turned it towards Maria for a kiss, which Maria gave 

" Good-bye, dear," she said, gently, and was off. 

Nobody knew how glad she was to be off. She had a 
stunned, shocked feeling; she realized that her knees 
trembled, but she held up her head straight and went 
on. She realized that worse than anything else would 
be the suspicion on the part of any one that Lily's en- 
gagement to George Ramsey troubled her. All the time, 
as she hurried along the familiar road, she realized that 
strange, shocked feeling, as of some tremendous detona- 
tion of spirit. She bowed mechanically to people whom 
she met. She did not fairly know who they were. She 
kept on her way only through inertia. She felt that if 
she stopped to think, she would scarcely know the road 
to the school-house. She wondered when she met a girl 
somewhat older than herself, just as she reached the 
bridge, if that girl, who was plain and poorly dressed, 
one of those who seem to make no aspirations to the 
sweets of life, if she had ever felt as she herself did. 
Such a curiosity possessed her concerning it that she 
wished she could ask the girl, although she did not know 
her. She dreaded lest Jessy Ramsey should run to meet 
her, and her dread was realized. However, Maria was 
not as distressed by it as she thought. She stooped and 
kissed Jessy quite easily. 

" Good-morning, dear," she said. 

A shock of any kind has the quality of mercy in that 
it benumbs as to pain. Maria's only realization was 
that something monstrous had happened, something 
like mutilation, but there was no sting of agony. She 
entered the school-house and went about her duties as 
usual. The children realized no difference in her, but 
all the time she realized the difference in herself. Some- 
thing had gone from her, some essential part which she 



could never recover, not in itself, no matter what her 
future life might be. She was shorn of her first love, 
and that which has been never can be again. 

When Maria reached the bridge on her way home, 
there was Lily waiting for her, as she had half expected 
she would be. 

"Maria, dear," said Lily, with a pretty gesture of 
pleading, "I had to come and meet you, because I am 
so happy, and nobody else knows, except mother, and, 
somehow, her being pleased doesn't please me. I sup- 
pose I am wicked, but it makes me angry. I know it is 
awful to say such a thing of my own mother, but I can't 
help feeling that she thinks now she can have my room 
for Mabel Ellridge, and won't have to give up the spare 
chamber. I have nobody to talk to but you, Maria. 
George won't come over before evening, and I am scared 
to go in and see his mother. I am so afraid she won't 
like me. Do you think she will like me, Maria dear ?" 

"I don't see why she should not," replied Maria. 
Lily had hold of her arm and was nestling close to her. 
'Don't you, honest?" 

"No, dear. I said so." 

"You don't mind my coming to meet you and talk it 
over, do you, Maria?" 

"Of course I don't! Why should I?" asked Maria, 
almost angrily. 

u I thought you wouldn't. Maria, do you think a blue 
tea-gown or a pink one would be prettier?" 

"I think pink is your color," said Maria. 

"Well, I rather like the idea of pink myself. Mother 
says I shall have enough money to get some nice things. 
I suppose it is very silly, but I always thought that one 
of the pleasant est things about getting married, must be 
having some pretty, new clothes. Do you think I am 
very silly, Maria?" 

"I dare say most girls feel so," said Maria, patiently. 


As she spoke she looked away from the other girl at 
the wintry landscape. There was to the eastward of 
Amity a low range of hills, hardly mountains. These 
were snow-covered, and beneath the light of the setting 
sun gave out wonderful hues and lights of rose and blue 
and pearl. It was to Maria as if she herself, being im- 
measurably taller than Lily and the other girls whom 
she typified, could see farther and higher, even to her 
own agony of mind. It is a great deal for a small nature 
to be pleased with the small things of life. A large 
nature may miss a good deal in not being pleased with 
them. Maria realized that she herself, in Lily's place, 
could have no grasp of mind petty enough for pink and 
blue tea-gowns, that she had outgrown that stage of 
her existence. She still liked pretty things, but they 
had now become dwarfed by her emotions, whereas, in 
the case of the other girl, the danger was that the emo- 
tions themselves should become dwarfed. Lily was 
typical, and there is after all a certain security as to 
peace and comfort in being one of a kind, and not 

Lily talked about her bridal wardrobe all the way 
until they reached the Ramsey house ; then she glanced 
up at the windows and bowed, dimpling and blushing. 
"That's his mother," she said to Maria. "I wonder if 
George has told her." 

"I should think he must have," said Maria. 

"I am so glad you think she will like me. I wonder 
what room we shall have, and whether there will be 
new furniture. I don't know how the up-stairs rooms 
are furnished, do you?" 

"No, how should I? I was never up-stairs in the 
house in my life," said Maria. Again she gazed away 
from Lily at the snow-covered hills. Her face wore an 
expression of forced patience. It really seemed to her 
as if she were stung by a swarm of platitudes like bees. 



Lily kissed her at her door. " 1 should ask if I couldn't 
come over this evening, and sit up in your room and talk 
it over," said she, "but I suppose he will be likely to 
come. He didn't say so, but I suppose he will." 

"I should judge so," said Maria. 

When she entered the sitting-room, her aunt, who was 
knitting with a sort of fierce energy, looked up. "Oh, 
it's you!" said she. Her face had an expression of 
hostility and tenderness at once. 

"Yes, Aunt Maria." 

Aunt Maria surveyed her scrutinizingly. "You don't 
mean to say you didn't wear your knit jacket under your 
coat, such a bitter day as this?" said she. 

"I have been warm enough." 

Aunt Maria sniffed. "I wonder when you will ever 
be old enough to take care of yourself ?" said she. " You 
need to be watched every minute like a baby." 

"I was warm enough, Aunt Maria," Maria repeated, 

"Well, sit down here by the stove and get heated 
through while I see to supper," said Aunt Maria, crossly. 
" I've got a hot beef -stew with dumplings for supper, and 
I guess I'll make some chocolate instead of tea. That 
always seems to me to warm up anybody better." 

" Don't you want me to help ?" said Maria. 

" No ; everything is all done except to make the choco- 
late. I've had the stew on hours. A stew isn't good for 
a thing unless you have it on long enough to get the good- 
ness out of the bone." 

Aunt Maria opened the door leading to the dining- 
room. In winter it served the two as both kitchen and 
dining-room, having a compromising sort of stove on 
which one could cook, and which still did not look 
entirely plebeian and fitted only for the kitchen. Maria 
saw through the open door the neatly laid table, with its 
red cloth and Aunt Maria's thin silver spoons and china. 



Aunt Maria had a weakness in one respect. She liked 
to use china, and did not keep that which had descended 
to her from her mother stored away, to be taken out only 
for company, as her sister-in-law thought she properly 
should do. The china was a fine Lowestoft pattern, and 
it was Aunt Maria's pride that not a piece was missing. 

"As long as I take care of my china myself, and am 
not dependent on some great, clumsy girl, I guess I can 
afford to use it," she said. 

As Maria eyed the delicate little cups a savory odor 
of stew floated through the room. She realized that she 
was not hungry, that the odor of food nauseated her 
with a sort of physical sympathy with the nausea of her 
soul, with life itself. Then she straightened herself, and 
shut her mouth hard. The look of her New England 
ancestresses who had borne life and death without flinch- 
ing was on her face. 

44 1 will be hungry," Maria said to herself. 44 Why 
should I lose my appetite because a man who does not 
care for me is going to marry another girl, and when I 
am married, too, and have no right even to think of him 
for one minute even if he had been in earnest, if he had 
thought of me ? Why should I lose my appetite ? Why 
should I go without my supper ? I will eat. More than 
that, I will enjoy eating, and neither George Ramsey nor 
Lily Merrill shall prevent it, neither they nor my own 

Maria sniffed the stew, and she compelled herself, by 
sheer force of will, to find the combined odor of boiling 
meat and vegetables inviting. She became hungry. 

44 That stew smells so good," she called out to her aunt, 
and her voice rang with triumph. 

44 1 guess it is a good stew," her aunt called back in 
reply. 4 Tve had it on four hours, and I've made 

44 Lovely!" cried Maria. She said to herself defiantly 


and proudly, that there were little zests of life which 
she might have if she could not have the greatest joys, 
and those little zests she would not be cheated out of 
by any adverse fate. She said practically to herself, 
that if she could not have love she could have a stew, 
and it might be worse. She smiled to herself over her 
whimsical conceit, and her face lost its bitter, strained 
look which it had worn all day. She reflected that even 
if she could not marry George Ramsey, and had turned 
the cold shoulder to him, he had been undeniably fickle; 
that his fancy had been lightly turned aside by a pretty 
face which was not accompanied by great mental power. 
She had felt a contempt for George, and scorn for Lily, 
but now her face cleared, and her attitude of mind. She 
had gained a petty triumph over herself, and along with 
that came a clearer view of the situation. When Aunt 
Maria called her to supper, she jumped up, and ran into 
the dining-room, and seated herself at the table. 

"I am as hungry as a bear," said she. 

Aunt Maria behind her delicate china teacups gave a 
sniff of satisfaction, and her set face softened. "Well, 
I'm glad you are," said she. "T guess the stew is 

"Of course it is," said Maria. She lifted the cover of 
the dish and began ladling out the stew with a small, 
thin, silver ladle which had come to Aunt Maria along 
with the china from her mother. She passed a plate 
over to her aunt, and filled her own, and began eating. 
"It is delicious," said she. The stew really pleased her 
palate, and she had the feeling of a conqueror who has 
gained one of the outposts in a battle. Aunt Maria 
passed her a thin china cup filled with frothing choco- 
late, and Maria praised that too. "Your chocolate is 
so much nicer than our cook used to make," said she, 
and Aunt Maria beamed. 

"I've got some lemon-cake, too," said she. 



"I call this a supper fit for a queen, " said Maria. 

"I thought I would make the cake this afternoon. I 
thought maybe you would like it," said Aunt Maria, 
smiling. Her own pride was appeased. The feeling that 
Maria, her niece whom she adored, had been slighted, 
had rankled within her all day. Now she told herself 
that Maria did not care ; that she might have been fool- 
ish in not caring and taking advantage of such a matri- 
monial chance, but that she did not care, and that she 
consequently was not slighted. 

"Well, I s'pose Lily told you the news this morning?" 
she said, presently. " I s'pose that was why she wanted 
to see you. I s'pose she was so tickled she couldn't wait 
to tell of it." 

"You mean her engagement to Mr. Ramsey?" said 
Maria, helping herself to more stew. 

"Yes. Eunice came in and told before you'd been 
gone half an hour. She'd been down to the store, and 
I guess Lily's mother had told it to somebody there. I 
s'pose Adeline Merrill is tickled to death to get Lily out 
of the way, now she's going to get married herself. She 
would have had to give up her spare chamber if she 

" It seems to me a very nice arrangement," said Maria, 
taking a spoonful of stew. "It would have been hard 
for poor Lily, and now she will live with Mr. Ramsey 
and his mother, and Mrs. Ramsey seems to be a lovely 

"Yes, she is," assented Aunt Maria. "She was built 
on a different plan from Adeline Merrill. She came of 
better stock. But I don't see what George Ramsey is 
thinking of, for my part." 

"Lily is very pretty and has a very good disposi- 
tion," said Maria. "I think she will make him a good 

Aunt Maria sniffed. "Now, Maria Edgham," said 


she, " what's the use. You know it's sour grapes he's 
getting. You know he wanted somebody else." 

''Whom?" asked Maria, innocently, sipping her choco- 

" You know he wanted you, Maria Edgham." 

"He got over it pretty quickly then," said Maria. 

"Maybe he hasn't got over it. Lily Merrill is just 
one of the kind of girls who lead a man on when they 
don't know they're being led. He is proud, too; Jie 
comes of a family that have always held their heads 
high. He wanted you." 


"You can't tell me. I know." 

"Aunt Maria," said Maria, with sudden earnestness, 
"if you ever tell such a thing as that out, I don't know 
what I shall do." 

"I ain't going to have folks think you're slighted," 
said Aunt Maria. She had made up her mind, in fact, 
to tell Eunice after supper. 

"Slighted!" said Maria, angrily. "There is no ques- 
tion of slight. Do you think I was in love with George 

" No, I don't, for if you had been you would have had 
him instead of letting a little dolly -pinky, rosy-like Lily 
Merrill get him. I think he was a good match, and I 
don't know what possessed you, but I don't think you 
wanted him." 

" If you talk about it you will make people think so," 
said Maria, passionately; " and if they do I will go away 
from Amity and never come back as long as I live." 

Aunt Maria looked with sharp, gleaming eyes at her 
niece. "Maria Edgham, you've got something on your 
mind," said she. 

"I have not." 

"Yes, you have, and I want to know what it is." 
"My mind is my own," said Maria, indignantly, even 


cruelly. Then she rose from the table and ran up-stairs 
to her own room. 

''You have gone off without touching the lemon- 
cake," her aunt called after her, but Maria made no re- 

Lemon-cake was an outpost which she could not then 
take. She had reached her limit, for the time being. 
She sat down beside her window in the dark room, light- 
ed only by the gleam from the Merrill house across the 
yard and an electric light on the street corner. There 
were curious lights and shadows over the walls ; strange 
flickerings and wavings as of intangible creatures, un- 
spoken thoughts. Maria rested her elbows on the win- 
dow-sill, and rested her chin in her hands, and gazed out. 
Presently, with a quiver of despair, she saw the door of 
the Merrill house open and Lily come flitting across the 
yard. She thought, with a shudder, that she was com- 
ing to make a few more confidences before George Ramsey 
arrived. She heard a timid little knock on the side door, 
then her aunt's harsh and uncompromising, "No, Maria 
ain't at home," said she, lying with the utter unrestraint 
of one who believes in fire and brimstone, and yet lies. 
She even repeated it, and emphasized and particularized 
her he, seemingly with a grim enjoyment of sin, now that 
she had taken hold of it. 

"Maria went out right after supper," said she. Then, 
evidently in response to Lily's low inquiry of where she 
had gone and when she would be home, she said: "She 
went to the post-office. She was expecting a letter from 
a gentleman in Edgham, I guess, and I shouldn't wonder 
if she stopped in at the Monroes' and played cards. 
They've been teasing her to. I shouldn't be surprised 
if she wasn't home till ten o'clock." 

Maria heard her aunt with w r onder which savored of 
horror, but she heard the door close and saw Lily flit 
back across the yard with a feeling of immeasurable 



relief. Then she heard her aunt's voice at her door, 
opened a narrow crack. 

4 'Are you warm enough in here?" asked Aunt Maria. 

" Yes, plenty warm enough." 

"You'd better not light a lamp," said Aunt Maria, 
coolly; "I just told that Merrill girl that you had gone 

"But I hadn't," said Maria. 

"I knew it; but there are times when a lie ain't a lie, 
it's only the truth upside-down. I knew that you didn't 
want that doll-faced thing over here again. She had 
better stay at home and wait for her new beau. She 
was all prinked up fit to kill. I told her you had gone 
out, and I meant to, but you'd better not light your 
lamp for a little while. It won't matter after a little 
while. I suppose the beau will come, and she won't 
pay any attention to it. But if you light it right away 
she'll think you've got back and come tearing over here 

"All right," said Maria. "I'll sit here a little while, 
and then I'll light my lamp. I've got some work to do." 

"I'm going into the other side, after I've finished the 
dishes," said Aunt Maria. 

"You won't—" 

"No, I won't. Let George Ramsey chew his sour 
grapes if he wants to. I sha'n't say anything about it. 
Anybody with any sense can't help knowing a man of 
sense would have rather had you than Lily Merrill. I 
ain't afraid of anybody thinking you're slighted." There 
was indignant and acrid loyalty in Aunt Maria's tone. 
She closed the door, as was her wont, with a little slam 
and went down-stairs. Aunt Maria walked very heavily. 
Her steps jarred the house. 

Maria continued sitting at her window. Presently a 
new light, a rosy light of a lamp under a pink shade, 
flashed in her eyes. The parlor in the Merrill house was 




lighted. Maria saw Lily draw down the curtain, upon 
which directly appeared the shadows of growing plants 
behind it in a delicate grace of tracery. Presently Maria 
saw a horse and sleigh drive into the Merrill yard. She 
saw Mrs. Merrill open the side-door, and Dr. Ellridge 
enter. Then she watched longer, and presently a dark 
shadow of a man passed down the street, of which she 
could see a short stretch from her window, and she saw 
him go to the front door of the Merrill house. Maria 
knew that was George Ramsey. She laughed a little, 
hysterical laugh as she sat there in the dark. It was 
ridiculous, the two pairs of lovers in the two rooms! 
The second-hand, warmed-over, renovated love and the 
new. After Maria laughed she sobbed. Then she check- 
ed her sobs and sat quite still and fought, and presently 
a strange thing happened, which is not possible to all, 
but is possible to some. With an effort of the will which 
shocked her house of life, and her very soul, and left 
marks which she would bear to all eternity, she put this 
unlawful love for the lover of another out of her heart. 
She closed all her doors and windows of thought and 
sense upon him, and the love was gone, and in its place 
was an awful emptiness which yet filled her with tri- 

" I do not love him at all now," she said, quite aloud; 
and it was true that she did not. She rose, pulled down 
her curtains, lighted her lamp, and went to work. 


Maria, after that, went on her way as before. She 
saw, without the slightest qualm, incredible as it may 
seem, George Ramsey devoted to Lily. She even entered 
without any shrinking into Lily's plans for her trous- 
seau, and repeatedly went shopping with her. She began 
embroidering a bureau-scarf and table-cover for Lily's 
room in the Ramsey house. It had been settled that 
the young couple were to have the large front chamber, 
and Mrs. Merrill's present to Lily was a set of furniture 
for it. Mrs. Ramsey's old-fashioned walnut set was 
stowed away. Maria even went with Mrs. Merrill to 
purchase the furniture. Mrs. Merrill had an idea, which 
could not be subdued, that Maria would have liked 
George Ramsey for herself, and she took a covert delight 
in pressing Maria into this service, and descanting upon 
the pleasant life in store for her daughter. Maria un- 
derstood with a sort of scorn Mrs. Merrill's thought; 
but she said to herself that if it gave her pleasure, let 
her think so. She had a character which could leave 
people to their mean and malicious delights for very 

' 'Well, I guess Lily's envied by a good many girls in 
Amity," said Mrs. Merrill, almost undisguisedly, when 
she and Maria had settled upon a charming set of fur- 

"I dare say," replied Maria. "Mr. Ramsey seems a 
very good young man." 

"He's the salt of the earth," said Mrs. Merrill. She 
gave a glance of thwarted malice at Maria's pretty face 



as they were seated side by side in the trolley-car on 
their way home that day. Her farthest imagination 
could discern no traces of chagrin, and Maria looked un- 
usually well that day in a new suit. However, she con- 
soled herself by thinking that Maria was undoubtedly 
like her aunt, who would die before she let on that she 
was hit, and that the girl, under her calm and smiling 
face, was stung with envy and slighted affection. 

Lily asked Maria to be her maid of honor. She 
planned to be married in church, but George Ramsey 
unexpectedly vetoed the church wedding. He wished 
a simple wedding at Lily's house. He even demurred 
at the bridal-gown and veil, but Lily had her way about 
that. Maria consented with no hesitation to be her 
maid of honor, although she refused to allow Mrs. Merrill 
to purchase her dress. She purchased some white cloth, 
and had it cut and fitted, and she herself made it, 
embroidering it with white silk, sitting up far into the 
night after school. But, after all, she was destined not 
to wear the dress to Lily's wedding and not to be her 
maid of honor. 

The wedding was to be the first week of Maria's spring 
vacation, and she unexpectedly received word from 
home that her father was not well, and that she had 
better go home as soon as her school was finished. Her 
father himself wrote. He wrote guardedly, evidently 
without Ida's knowledge. He said that, unless her heart 
was particularly set upon attending the wedding, he 
wished she would come home; that her vacation was 
short, at the best, that he had not seen her for a long 
time, and that he did not feel quite himself some days. 
Maria read between the lines, and so did her aunt 
Maria, to whom she read the letter. 

"Your father's sicker than he lets on," Aunt Maria 
said, bluntly. "You'd better go. You don't care any- 
thing particular about going to that Merrill girl's wed- 



ding. She can get Fanny Ellwell for her maid of honor. 
That dress Fanny wore at Eva Granger's wedding will 
do for her to wear. Your dress will come in handy next 
summer. You had better go home." 

Maria sat soberly looking at the letter. "I am afraid 
father is worse than he says," she said. 

"I know he is. Harry Edgham wasn't ever very 
strong, and I'll warrant his wife has made him go out 
when he didn't feel equal to it, and she has had stacks of 
company, and he must have had to strain every nerve 
to meet expenses, poor man! You'd better go, Maria." 

"Of course, I am going," replied Maria. 

That evening she went over and told Lily that she 
could not be her maid of honor, that her father was sick, 
and she would be obliged to go home as soon as school 
closed. George Ramsey was calling, and Lily's face 
had a lovely pink radiance. One could almost seem to 
see the kisses of love upon it. George acted a little 
perturbed at sight of Maria. He remained silent during 
Lily's torrent of regrets and remonstrances, but he fol- 
lowed Maria to the door and said to her how sorry he 
was that her father was ill. 

"I hope it is nothing serious," he said. 

"Thank you," said Maria. "I hope not, but I don't 
think my father is very strong, and I feel that I ought 
to go." 

" Of course," said George. " We shall be sorry to miss 
you, but, if your father is ill, you ought to go." 

"Do you think one day would make any difference?" 
said Lily, pleadingly, putting up her lovely face at Maria. 

"It would mean three days, you know, dear," Maria 

"Of course it would," said George; "and Miss Edg- 
ham is entirely right, Lily." 

"I don't want Fanny Ellwell one bit for maid of 
honor," Lily said, poutingly. 



Maria did not pay any attention. She was thinking 
anxiously of her father. She realized that he must be 
very ill or he would not have written her as he had done. 
It was not like Harry Edgham to deprive any one of any 
prospective pleasure, and he had no reason to think 
that being maid of honor at this wedding w r as anything 
but a pleasure to Maria. She felt that the illness must 
be something serious. Her school was to close in three 
days, and she was almost too impatient to wait. 

"Ida Edgham ought to be ashamed of herself for not 
writing and letting you know that your father was sick 
before," said Aunt Maria. "She and Lily Merrill are 
about of a piece." 

"Maybe father didn't want her to," said Maria. 
"Father knew my school didn't close until next Thurs- 
day. If I thought he was very ill I would try to get a 
substitute and start off before." 

"But I know your father wouldn't have written for 
you to come unless he wasn't well and wanted to see 
you," said Aunt Maria. " I shouldn't be a mite sur- 
prised, too, if he suspected that Ida would write you not 
to come, and thought he'd get ahead of her." 

Aunt Maria was right. In the next mail came a letter 
from Ida, saying that she supposed Maria would not 
think she could come home for such a short vacation, 
especially as she had to stay a little longer in Amity for 
the wedding, and how sorry they all were, and how they 
should look forward to the long summer vacation. 

" She doesn't say a word about father's being ill," said 

" Of course she doesn't! She knew perfectly well that 
if she did you would go home whether or no ; or maybe 
she hasn't got eyes for anything aside from herself to see 
that he is sick." 

Maria grew so uneasy about her father that she en- 
gaged a substitute and went home two days before her 

3 5o 


vacation actually commenced. She sent a telegram, say- 
ing that she was coming, and on what train she should 
arrive. Evelyn met her at the station in Edgham. She 
had grown, and was nearly as tall as Maria, although 
only a child. She was fairly dancing with pleasurable 
expectation on the platform, with the uncertain grace 
of a butterfly over a rose, when Maria caught sight of 
her. Evelyn was a remarkably beautiful little girl. 
She had her mother's color and dimples, with none 
of her hardness. Her forehead, for some odd reason, 
was high and serious, like Maria's own, and Maria's own 
mother's. Her dark hair was tied with a crisp white bow, 
and she was charmingly dressed in red from head to 
foot — a red frock, red coat, and red hat. Ida could at 
least plead, in extenuation of her faults of life, that she 
had done her very best to clothe those around her with 
beauty and grace. When Maria got off the car, Evelyn 
made one leap towards her, and her slender, red-clad 
arms went around her neck. She hugged and kissed her 
with a passionate fervor odd to see in a child. Her 
charming face was all convulsed with emotion. 

" Oh, sister!" she said. " Oh, sister!" 

Maria kissed her fondly. " Sister's darling," she said. 
Then she put her gently away. ''Sister has to get out 
her trunk-check and see to getting a carriage," she said. 

"Mamma has gone to New York," said Evelyn, "and 
papa has not got home yet. He comes on the next train. 
He told me to come and meet you." 

Maria, after she had seen to her baggage and was 
seated in the livery carriage with Evelyn, asked how her 
father was. "Is father ill, dear?" she said. 

Evelyn looked at her with surprise. " Why, no, sister, 
I don't think so," she replied. "Mamma hasn't said 
anything about it, and I haven't heard papa say any- 
thing, either." 

"Does he go to New York every day ?" 



" Yes, of course," said Evelyn. The little girl had kept 
looking at her sister with loving, adoring eyes. Now she 
suddenly cuddled up close to her and thrust her arm 
through Maria's. "Oh, sister!" she said, half sobbingly 

"There, don't cry, sister's own precious," Maria said, 
kissing the little, glowing face on her shoulder. She 
realized all at once how hard the separation had been 
from her sister. "Are you glad to have me home ?" she 

For answer Evelyn only clung the closer. There was 
a strange passion in the look of her big eyes as she 
glanced up at her sister. Maria was too young herself 
to realize it, but the child had a dangerous temperament. 
She had inherited none of her mother's hard phleg- 
maticism. She was glowing and tingling with emotion 
and life and feeling in every nerve and vein. As she 
clung to her sister she trembled all over her lithe little 
body with the violence of her affection for her and her 
delight at meeting her again. Evelyn had made a sort 
of heroine of her older sister. Her imagination had glo- 
rified her, and now the sight of her did not disappoint 
her in the least. Evelyn thought Maria, in her brown 
travelling-gown and big, brown-feathered hat, perfectly 
beautiful. She was proud of her with a pride which 
reached ecstasy ; she loved her with a love which reached 

" So father goes to New York every day ?" said Maria 

"Yes," said Evelyn. Then she repeated her ecstatic 
"Oh, sister!" 

To Maria herself the affection of the little girl was 
inexpressibly grateful. She said to herself that she had 
something, after all. She thought of Lily Merrill, and 
reflected how much more she loved Evelyn than she had 
loved George Ramsey, how much more precious a little, 

35 2 


innocent, beautiful girl was than a man. She felt some- 
what reassured about her father's health. It did not 
seem to her that he could be very ill if he went to New 
York every day. 

"Mamma has gone to the matinee, " said Evelyn, 
nestling luxuriously, like a kitten, against Maria. "She 
said she would bring me some candy. Mamma wore her 
new blue velvet gown, and she looked lovely, but" — 
Evelyn hesitated a second, then she whispered with her 
lips close to Maria's ear — "I love you best." 

"Evelyn, darling, you must not say such things," 
said Maria, severely. "Of course, you love your own 
mother best." 

" No, I don't," persisted Evelyn. " Maybe it's wicked, 
but I don't. I love papa as well as I do you, but I don't 
love mamma so well. Mamma gets me pretty things to 
wear, and she smiles at me, but I don't love her so much. 
I can't help it." 

"That is a naughty little girl," said Maria. 

"I can't help it," said Evelyn. "Mamma can't love 
anybody as hard as I can. I can love anybody so hard 
it makes me shake all over, and I feel ill, but mamma 
can't. I love you so, Maria, that I don't feel well." 

"Nonsense!" said Maria, but she kissed Evelyn again. 

" I don't — honest," said Evelyn. Then she added, after 
a second's pause, " If I tell you something, won't you tell 
mamma — honest ?" 

"I can't promise if I don't know what it is," said 
Maria, with her school-teacher manner. 

" It isn't any harm, but mamma wouldn't understand. 
She never felt so, and she wouldn't understand. You 
won't tell her, will you, sister?" 

"No, I guess not," said Maria. 


"Well, I won't tell her." 

Evelyn looked up in her sister's face with her wonder- 


ful dark eyes, a rose flush spread over her face. "Well, 
I am in love," she whispered. 

Maria laughed, although she tried not to. " Well, with 
whom, dear?" she asked. 

"With a boy. Do you think it is wrong, sister?" 

"No, I don't think it is very wrong," replied Maria, 
trying to restrain her smile. 

"His first name is pretty, but his last isn't so very," 
Evelyn said, regretfully. "His first name is Ernest. 
Don't you think that is a pretty name?" 

"Very pretty." 

"But his last name is only Jenks," said Evelyn, with 
a mortified air. "That is horrid, isn't it?" 

"Nobody can help his name," said Maria, consolingly. 

"Of course he can't. Poor Ernest isn't to blame 
because his mother married a man named Jenks ; but I 
wish she hadn't. If we ever get married, I don't want 
to be called Mrs. Jenks. Don't people ever change their 
names, sister?" 

"Sometimes, I believe." 

"Well, I shall not marry him unless he changes his 
name. But he is such a pretty boy. He looks across 
the school-room at me, and once, when I met him in the 
vestibule, and there was nobody else there, he asked me 
to kiss him, and I did." 

"I don't think you ought to kiss boys," said Maria. 

"I would rather kiss him than another girl," said 
Evelyn, looking up at her sister with the most limpid 
passion, that of a child who has not the faintest concep- 
tion of what passion means. 

"Well, sister would rather you did not," said Maria. 

" I won't if you don't want me to," said Evelyn, meek- 
ly. "That was quite a long time ago. It is not very 
likely I shall meet him anywhere where we could kiss 
each other, anyway. Of course, I don't really love him 
as much as I do you and papa. I would rather he died 



than you or papa; but I am in love with him — you 
know what I mean, sister ?" 

" I wouldn't think any more about it, dear," said Maria. 

" I like to think about him," said Evelyn, simply. " I 
like to sit whole hours and think about him, and make 
sort of stories about us, you know — how we meet some- 
where, and he tells me how much he loves me, and how 
we kiss each other again. It makes me happy. I go to 
sleep so. Do you think it is wrong, sister?" 

Maria remembered her own childhood. "Perhaps it 
isn't wrong, exactly, dear," she said, "but I wouldn't, if 
I were you. I think it is better not." 

"Well, I will try not to," said Evelyn, with a sigh. 
"He told Amy Jones I was the prettiest girl in school. 
Of course we couldn't be married for a long time, and I 
wouldn't be Mrs. Jenks. But, now you've come home, 
maybe I sha'n't want to think so much about him." 

Maria found new maids when she reached home. Ida 
did not keep her domestics very long. However, nobody 
could say that was her fault in this age when man-ser- 
vants and maid-servants buzz angrily, like bees, over 
household tasks and are constantly hungering for new 

"We have had two cooks and two new second-girls 
since you went away," Evelyn said, when they stood 
waiting for the front door to be opened, and the man 
with Maria's trunk stood behind them. "The last sec- 
ond-girl we had stole " — Evelyn said the last in a hor- 
rified whisper — "and the last cook couldn't cook. The 
cook we have now is named Agnes, and the second-girl 
is Irene. Agnes lets me go out in the kitchen and make 
candy, and she always makes a little cake for me; but I 
don't like Irene. She says things under her breath when 
she thinks nobody will hear, and she makes up my bed 
so it is all wrinkly. I shouldn't be surprised if she stole, 



Then the door opened and a white-capped maid, with 
a rather pretty face, evidently of the same class as Gladys 
Mann, appeared. 

"This is my sister, Miss Maria, Irene/' said Evelyn. 

The maid nodded and said something inarticulate. 

Maria said " How do you do?" to her, and asked her 
to tell the man where to carry the trunk. 

When the trunk was in Maria's old room, and Maria 
had smoothed her hair and washed her face and hands, 
she and Evelyn sat down in the parlor and waited. The 
parlor looked to Maria, after poor Aunt Maria's sparse 
old furnishings, more luxurious than she had remembered 
it. In fact, it had been improved. There were some 
splendid palms in the bay-window, and some new articles 
of furniture. The windows, also, had been enlarged, and 
were hung with new curtains of filmy lace, with thin, red 
silk over thern. The whole room seemed full of rosy 

"I wish you would ask Irene to fix the hearth fire," 
Evelyn had said to Maria when they entered the room, 
which did seem somewhat chilly. 

Maria asked the girl to do so, and when she had gone 
and the fire was blazing Evelyn said: 

"I didn't like to ask her, sister. She doesn't realize 
that I am not a baby, and she does not like it. So I 
never ask her to do anything except when mamma is 
here. Irene is afraid of mamma." 

Maria laughed and looked at the clock. "How long 
will it be before father comes, do you think, dear?" 
she asked. 

"Papa comes home lately at five o'clock. I guess he 
will be here very soon now; but mamma won't be home 
before half -past seven. She has gone with the Voorhees 
to the matinee. Do you know the Voorhees, sister?" 

"No, dear." 

" I guess they came to Edgham after you went away. 


They bought that big house on the hill near the church. 
They are very rich. There are Mr. Voorhees and Mrs. 
Voorhees and their little boy. He doesn't wear long 
stockings in the coldest weather ; his legs are quite bare 
from a little above his shoes to his knees. I should think 
he would be cold, but mamma sa)^s it is very stylish. 
He is a pretty little boy, but I don't like him; he looks 
too much like Mr. Voorhees, and I don't like him. He 
always acts as if he were laughing at something inside, 
and you don't know what it is. Mrs. Voorhees is very 
handsome, not quite so handsome as mamma, but Very 
handsome, and she wears beautiful clothes and jewels. 
They often ask mamma to go to the theatre with them, 
and they are here quite a good deal. They have dinner- 
parties and receptions, and mamma goes. We had a 
dinner-party here last week." 

" Doesn't father go to the theatre with them?" asked 

"No, he never goes. I don't know whether they ask 
him or not. If they do, he doesn't go. I guess he 
would rather stay at home. Then I don't believe papa 
would want to leave me alone until the late train, for 
often the cook and Irene go out in the evening." 

Maria looked anxiously at her little sister, who was 
sitting as close to her as she could get in the divan be- 
fore the fire. "Does papa look well?" she asked. 

"Why, yes, I guess so. He looks just the way he al- 
ways has. I haven't heard him say he wasn't well, nor 
mamma, and he hasn't had the doctor, and I haven't 
seen him take any medicine. I guess he's well." 

Maria looked at the clock, a fine French affair, which 
had been one of Ida's wedding gifts, standing swinging 
its pendulum on the shelf between a Tiffany vase and a 
bronze. "Father must be home soon now, if he comes 
on that five-clock train," she said. 

"Yes, I guess he will." 



In fact, it was a very few minutes before a carriage 
stopped in front of the house and Evelyn called out: 
" There he is! Papa has come!" 

Maria did not dare look out of the window. She arose 
with trembling knees and went out into the hall as the 
front door opened. She saw at the first glance that her 
father had changed — that he did not look well. And 
yet it was difficult to say why he did not look well. He 
had not lost flesh, at least not perceptibly ; he was not 
very pale, but on his face was the expression of one who 
is looking his last at the things of this world. The ex- 
pression was at once stern and sad and patient. When 
he saw Maria, however, the look disappeared for the 
time. His face, which had not yet lost its boyish out- 
lines, fairly quivered between smiles and tears. He 
caught Maria in his arms. 

"Father's blessed child!" he whispered in her ear. 

"Oh, father," half sobbed Maria, "why didn't you 
send for me before? Why didn't you tell me?" 

" Hush, darling!" Harry said, with a glance at Evelyn, 
who stood looking on with a puzzled, troubled expression 
on her little face. Harry took off his overcoat, and they 
all went into the parlor. "That fire looks good," said 
Harry, drawing close to it. 

"I got Maria to ask Irene to make it," Evelyn said, 
in her childish voice. 

"That was a good little girl," said Harry. He sat 
down on the divan, with a daughter on each side of him. 
Maria nestled close to her father. With an effort she 
kept her quivering face straight. She dared not look 
in his face again. A knell seemed ringing in her ears 
from her own conviction, a voice of her inner conscious- 
ness, which kept reiterating, "Father is going to die, 
father is going to die." Maria knew little of illness, but 
she felt that she could not mistake that expression. But 
her father talked quite gayly, asking her about her 



school and Aunt Maria and Uncle Henry and his wife. 
Maria replied mechanically. Finally she mustered cour- 
age to say: 

"How are you feeling, father? Are you well? ,, 

" I am about the same as when you went away, dear/' 
Harry replied, and that expression of stern, almost 
ineffable patience deepened on his face. He smiled 
directly, however, and asked Evelyn what train her 
mother had taken. 

"She won't be home until the seven-thirty train," 
said Harry, "and there is no use in our waiting dinner. 
You must be hungry, Maria. Evelyn, darling, speak to 
Irene. I hear her in the dining-room/ ' 

Evelyn obeyed, and Harry gave his orders that dinner 
should be served as soon as possible. The girl smiled 
at him with a coquettish air. 

"Irene is pleasanter to papa than to anybody else," 
Evelyn observed, meditatively, when Irene had gone 
out. "I guess girls are apt to be pleasanter to gentle- 
men than to little girls." 

Harry laughed and kissed the child's high forehead. 
"Little girls are just as well off if they don't study out 
other people's peculiarities too much," he said. 

"They are very interesting," said Evelyn, with an odd 
look at him, yet an entirely innocent look. 

Maria was secretly glad that this first evening She 
was not there, that she could dine alone with her father 
and Evelyn. It was a drop of comfort, and yet the 
awful knell never ceased ringing in her ears — "Father is 
going to die, father is going to die." Maria made an 
effort to eat, because her father watched her anxiously. 

"You are not as stout as you were when you went 
away, precious," he said. 

"I am perfectly well," said Maria. 

"Well, I must say you do look well," said Harry, 
looking admiringly at her. He admired his little Evelyn, 


but no other face in the world upon which he was soon 
to close his eyes forever was quite so beautiful to him 
as Maria's. "You look very much as your own mother 
used to do," he said. 

"Was Maria's mamma prettier than my mamma?" 
asked Evelyn, calmly, without the least jealousy. She 
looked scrutinizingly at Maria, then at her father. "I 
think Maria is a good deal prettier than mamma, and I 
suppose, of course, her mamma must have been better- 
looking than mine," said she, answering her own ques- 
tion, to Harry's relief. But she straightway followed 
one embarrassing question with another. "Did you 
love Maria's mamma better than you do my mamma?" 
she asked. 

Maria came to her father's relief. "That is not a 
question for little girls to ask, dear," said she. 

"I don't see why," said Evelyn. "Little girls ought 
to know things. I supposed that was why I was a little 
girl, in order to learn to know everything. I should 
have been born grown up if it hadn't been for that." 

"But you must not ask such questions, precious," 
said Maria. "When you are grown up you will see 

Harry insisted upon Evelyn's going to bed directly 
after dinner, although she pleaded hard to be allowed 
to sit up until her mother returned. Harry wished for 
at least a few moments alone with Maria. So Evelyn 
went off up-stairs, after teary kisses and good-nights, 
and Maria was left alone with her father in the parlor. 

"You are not well, father?" Maria said, immediately 
after Evelyn had closed the door. 

"No, dear," replied Harry, simply. 

Maria retained her self-composure very much as her 
mother might have done. A quick sense of the neces- 
sity of aiding her father, of supporting him spiritually, 
came over her. 



" What doctor have you seen, father?" she asked. 
"The doctor here and three specialists in New York." 
"And they all agreed?" 
"Yes, dear." 

Maria looked interrogatively at her father. Her face 
was very white and shocked, but it did not quiver. 
Harry answered the look. 

"I may have to give up almost any day now," he 
said, with an odd sigh, half of misery, half of relief. 

"Does Ida know?" asked Maria. 

" No, dear, she does not suspect. I thought there was 
no need of distressing her. I wanted to tell you while 
I was able, because — " Harry hesitated, then he con- 
tinued: "Father wanted to tell you how sorry he was 
not to make any better provision for you," he said, 
pitifully. " He didn't want you to think it was because 
he cared any the less for you. But — soon after I mar- 
ried Ida — well, I realized how helpless she would be, 
especially after Evelyn was born, and I had my life 
insured for her benefit. A few years after I tried to get 
a second policy for your benefit, but it was too late. 
Father hasn't been well for quite a long time." 

"I hope you don't think I care about any money," 
Maria cried, with sudden passion. "I can take care of 
myself. It is you I think of." Maria began to weep, 
then restrained herself, but she looked accusingly and 
distressedly at her father. 

"I had to settle the house on her, too," said Harry, 
painfully. "But I felt sure at the time — she said so — 
that you would always have your home here." 

"That is all right, father," said Maria. 

"All father can do for his first little girl, the one he 
loves best of all," said Harry, "is to leave her a little 
sum he has saved and put in the savings-bank here in 
her name. It is not much, dear." 

"It is more than I want. I don't want anything. 


All I want is you!" cried Maria. She had an impulse to 
rush to her father, to cling about his neck and weep her 
very heart out, but she restrained herself. She saw how 
unutterably weary her father looked, and she realized 
that any violent emotion, even of love, might be too 
much for his strength. She knew, too, that her father 
understood her, that she cared none the less because she 
restrained herself. Maria would never know, luckily for 
her, how painfully and secretly poor Harry had saved 
the little sum which he had placed in the bank to her 
credit; how he had gone without luncheons, without 
clothes, without medicines even how he had possibly 
hastened the end by his anxiety for her welfare. 

Suddenly carriage - wheels were heard, and Harry 
straightened himself. "That is Ida," he said. Then he 
rose and opened the front door, letting a gust of frosty 
outside air enter the house, and presently Ida came in. 
She was radiant, the most brilliant color on her hard, 
dimpled cheeks. The blank dark light of her eyes, and 
her set smile, were just as Maria remembered them. 
She was magnificent in her blue velvet, with her sable 
furs and large, blue velvet hat, with a blue feather float- 
ing over the black waves of her hair. Maria said to 
herself that she was certainly a beauty, that she was 
more beautiful than ever. She greeted Maria with the 
most faultless manner; she gave her her cool red cheek 
to be kissed, and made the suitable inquiries as to her 
journey, her health, and the health of her relatives in 
Amity. When Harry said something about dinner, she 
replied that she had dined with the Voorhees in the 
Pennsylvania station, since they had missed the train 
and had some time on their hands. She removed her 
wraps and seated herself before the fire. 

When at last Maria went to her own room, she was 
both pleased and disturbed to find Evelyn in her bed. 
She had wished to be free to give way to her terrible 



grief. Evelyn, however, waked just enough to explain 
that she wanted to sleep with her, and threw one slender 
arm over her, and then sank again into the sound sleep 
of childhood. Maria lay sobbing quietly, and her sister 
did not awaken at all. It might have been midnight 
when the door of the room was softly opened and light 
flared across the ceiling. Maria turned, and Ida stood 
in the doorway. She had on a red wrapper, and she 
held a streaming candle. Her black hair floated around 
her beautiful face, which had not lost its color or its 
smile, although what she said might reasonably have 
caused it to do so. 

"Your father does not seem quite well," she said to 
Maria. " I have sent Irene and the cook for the doctor. 
If you don't mind, I wish you would get up and slip on 
a wrapper and come into my room." Ida spoke softly 
for fear of waking Evelyn, whom she had directly seen 
in Maria's bed when she opened the door. 

Maria sprang up, got a wrapper, put it on over her 
night-gown, thrust her feet into slippers, and followed 
Ida across the hall. Harry lay on the bed, seemingly 

"I can't seem to rouse him," said Ida. She spoke 
quite placidly. 

Maria went close to her father and put her ear to his 
mouth. "He is breathing," she whispered, tremu- 

Ida smiled. "Oh yes," she said. "I don't think it 
anything serious. It may be indigestion." 

Then Maria turned on her. "Indigestion!" she whis- 
pered. "Indigestion! He is dying. He has been dy- 
ing a long time, and you haven't had sense enough to 
see it. You haven't loved him enough to see it. What 
made you marry my father if you didn't love him?" 

Ida looked at Maria, and her face seemed to freeze 
into a smiling mask. 



"He is dying!" Maria repeated, in a frenzy, yet still in 
a whisper. 

" Dying? What do you know about it?" Ida asked, 
with icy emphasis. 

"I know. He has seen three specialists besides the 
doctor here/' 

"And he told you instead of me?" 

"He told me because he knew I loved him," said 
Maria. She was as white as death herself, and she 
trembled from head to foot with strange, stiff tremors. 
Her blue eyes fairly blazed at her step-mother. 

Suddenly the sick man began to breathe stertorously. 
Even Ida started at that. She glanced nervously tow- 
ards the bed. Little Evelyn, in her night-gown, her 
black fleece of hair fluffing around her face like a nimbus 
of shadow, came and stood in the doorway. 

"What is the matter with papa?" she whispered, 

"He is asleep, that is all, and breathing hard," replied 
her mother. "Go back to bed." 

"Go back to bed, darling," said Maria. 

" What is the matter ?" asked Evelyn. She burst into 
a low, frightened wail. 

"Go back to bed this instant, Evelyn," said her 
mother, and the child fled, whimpering. 

Maria stood close to her father. Ida seated herself 
in a chair beside the table on which the lamp stood. 
Neither of them spoke again. The dying man continued 
to breathe his deep, rattling breath, the breath of one who 
is near the goal of life and pants at the finish of the race. 
The cook, a large Irishwoman, put her face inside the 

"The doctor is comm' right away," said she. Then 
in the same breath she muttered, looking at poor Harry, 
"Oh, me God!" and fled, doubtless to pray for the poor 
man's soul. 



Then the doctor's carriage-wheels were heard, and he 
came up-stairs, ushered by Irene, who stood in the door- 
way, listening and looking with a sort of alien expression, 
as if she herself were immortal, and sneered and won- 
dered at it all. 

Ida greeted the doctor in her usual manner. "Good- 
evening, doctor," she said, smiling. "I am sorry to 
have disturbed you at this hour, but Mr. Edgham has 
an acute attack of indigestion and I could not rouse him, 
and I thought it hardly wise to wait until morning." 

The doctor, who was an old man, unshaven and grim- 
faced, nodded and went up to the bed. He did not open 
his medicine-case after he had looked at Harry. 

"I suppose you can give him something, doctor?" 
Ida said. 

"There is nothing that mortal man can do, madam," 
said the doctor, surlily. He disliked Ida Edgham, and 
yet he felt apologetic towards her that he could do 
nothing. He in reality felt testily apologetic towards 
all mankind that he could not avert death at last. 

Ida's brilliant color faded then; she ceased to smile. 
"I think I should have been told," she said, with a sort 
of hard indignation. 

The doctor said nothing. He stood holding Harry's 
hand, his fingers on the pulse. 

"You surely do not mean me to understand that my 
husband is dying?" said Ida. 

"He cannot last more than a few hours, madam," 
replied the doctor, with pitilessness, yet still with the 
humility of one who has failed in a task. 

"I think we had better have another doctor at once," 
said Ida. "Irene, go down street to the telegraph op- 
erator and tell him to send a message for Dr. Lameth." 

"He has been consulted, and also Dr. Green and Dr. 
Anderson, not four weeks ago, and we all agree," said 
the doctor, with a certain defiance. 



"Go, Irene," said Ida. 

Irene went out of the room, but neither she nor the 
cook left the house. 

"The madam said to send a telegram," Irene told the 
cook, "but the doctor said it was no use, and I ain't 
goin' to stir out a step again to-night. I'm afraid." 

The cook, who was weeping beside the kitchen table, 
hardly seemed to hear. She wept profusely and mut- 
tered surreptitiously prayers on her rosary for poor 
Harry's soul, which passed as day dawned. 


Maria had always attended church, and would have 
said, had she been asked, that she believed in religion, 
that she believed in God; but she had from the first, 
when she had thought of such matters at all, a curious 
sort of scorn, which was half shame, at the familiar 
phrases used concerning it. When she had heard of 
such and such a one that "he was serious," that he had 
"experienced conviction, " she had been filled with dis- 
gust. The spiritual nature of it all was to her mind 
treated materially, like an attack of the measles or 
mumps. She had seen people unite with the church of 
which her mother had been a member, and heard them 
subscribe to and swear their belief in articles of faith, 
which seemed to her monstrous. Religion had never 
impressed her with any beauty, or sense of love. Now, 
for the first time, after her father had died, she seemed 
all at once to sense the nearness of that which is beyond, 
and a love and longing for it, which is the most primitive 
and subtlest instinct of man, filled her very soul. Her 
love for her father projected her consciousness of him 
beyond this world. In the midst of her grief a strange 
peace was over her, and a realization of love which she 
had never had before. Maria, at this period, had she 
been a Catholic, might have become a religious devotee. 
She seemed to have visions of the God-man crowned 
with thorns, the rays of unutterable and eternal love, 
and sacred agony for love's sake. She said to herself 
that she loved God, that her father had gone to him. 
Moreover, she took a certain delight in thinking that her 



own mother, with her keen tongue and her heart of true 
gold, had him safe with her. She regarded Ida with a 
sort of covert triumph during those days after the 
funeral, when the sweet, sickly fragrance of the funeral 
flowers still permeated the house. Maria did not weep 
much after the first. She was not one to whom tears 
came easily after her childhood. She carried about with 
her what seemed like an aching weight and sense of loss, 
along with that strange new conviction of love and being 
born for ultimate happiness which had come to her at the 
time of her father's death. 

The spring was very early that year. The apple- 
trees were in blossom at an unusual time. There was a 
tiny orchard back of the Edgham house. Maria used 
to steal away down there, sit down on the grass, speckled 
with pink-and-white petals, and look up through the rosy 
radiance of bloom at the infinite blue light of the sky. 
It seemed to her for the first time she laid hold on life 
in the midst of death. She wondered if she could always 
feel as she did then. She had a premonition that this 
state, which bordered on ecstasy, would not endure. 

"Maria does not act natural, poor child, " Ida said to 
Mrs. Voorhees. "She hardly sheds a tear. Sometimes 
I fear that her father's marrying again did wean her a 
little from him." 

"She may have deep feelings," suggested Mrs. Voor- 
hees. Mrs. Voorhees was an exuberant blonde, with 
broad shallows of sentimentality overflowing her mind. 

" Perhaps she has," Ida assented, with a peculiar smile 
curling her lips. Ida looked handsomer than ever in her 
mourning attire. The black softened her beauty, in- 
stead of bringing it into bolder relief, as is sometimes the 
case. Ida mourned Harry in a curious fashion. She 
mourned the more pitifully because of the absence of 
any mourning at all, in its truest sense. Ida had borne 
in upon her the propriety of deep grief, and she, main- 


'she had a premonition that this state 
not endure" 



taining that attitude, cramped her very soul because of 
its unnaturalness. She consoled herself greatly because 
of what she esteemed her devotion to the man who was 
gone. She said to herself, with a preen of her funereal 
crest, that she had been such a wife to poor Harry as 
few men ever had possessed. 

"Well, I have the consolation of thinking that I have 
done my duty/' she said to Mrs. Voorhees. 

"Of course you have, dear, and that is worth every- 
thing,' ' responded her friend. 

"I did all I could to make his home attractive," said 
Ida, " and he never had to wait for a meal. How pretty 
he thought those new hangings in the parlor were! Poor 
Harry had an aesthetic sense, and I did my best to gratify 
it. It is a consolation." 

"Of course," said Mrs. Voorhees. 

If Ida had known how Maria regarded those very red 
silk parlor hangings she would have been incredulous. 
Maria thought to herself how hard her poor father had 
worked, and how the other hangings, which had been 
new at the time of Ida's marriage, could not have been 
worn, out. She wanted to tear down the filmy red things 
and stuff them into the kitchen stove. When she found 
out that her father had saved up nearly a thousand 
dollars for her, which was deposited to her credit in the 
Edgham savings-bank, her heart nearly broke because 
of that. She imagined her father going without things 
to save that little pittance for her, and she hated the 
money. She said to herself that she would never touch 
it. And yet she loved her father for saving it for her 
with a very anguish of love. 

Ida was manifestly surprised when Henry's will was 
read and she learned of Maria's poor little legacy, but 
she touched her cool red lips to Maria's cheek and told 
her how glad she was. "It will be a little nest-egg for 
you," she said, "and it will buy your trousseau. And, 



of course, you will always feel at perfect liberty to come 
here whenever you wish to do so. Your room will be 
kept just as it is." 

Maria thanked her, but she detected an odd ring of 
insincerity in Ida's voice. After she went to bed that 
night she speculated as to what it meant. Evelyn was 
not with her. Ida had insisted that she should occupy 
her own room. 

" You will keep each other awake," she said. 

Evelyn had grown noticeably thin and pale in a few 
days. The child had adored her father. Often, at the 
table, she would look at his vacant place, and push away 
her plate, and sob. Ida had become mildly severe with 
her on account of it. 

"My dear child," she said, "of course we all feel just 
as you do, but we control ourselves. It is the duty of 
those who live to control themselves." 

"I want my papa!" sobbed Evelyn convulsively. 

"You had better go away from the table, dear," said 
Ida calmly. "I will have a plate of dinner kept warm 
for you, and by-and-by when you feel like it, you can 
go down to the kitchen and Agnes will give it to you." 

In fact, poor little Evelyn, who was only a child and 
needed her food, did steal down to the kitchen about 
nine o'clock and got her plate of dinner. But she was 
more satisfied by Agnes bursting into tears and talking 
about her " blissed father that was gone, and how there 
was niver a man like him," and actually holding her in 
her great lap while she ate. It was a meal seasoned 
with tears, but also sweetened with honest sympathy. 
Evelyn, when she slipped up the back stairs to her own 
room after her supper, longed to go into her sister's 
room and sleep with her, but she did not dare. Her lit* 
tie bed was close to the wall, against which, on the other 
side, Maria's bed stood, and once Evelyn distinctly heard 
a sob. She sobbed too, but softly, lest her mother hear. 



Evelyn felt that she and Maria and Agnes were the only 
ones who really mourned for her father, although she 
viewed her mother in her mourning robes with a sort of 
awe, and a feeling that she must believe in a grief on her 
part far beyond hers and Maria's. Ida had obtained a 
very handsome mourning wardrobe for both herself and 
Evelyn, and had superintended Maria's. Maria paid 
for her clothes out of her small earnings, however. Ida 
had her dress-maker's bill made out separately, and gave 
it to her. Maria calculated that she would have just 
about enough to pay her fare back to Amity without 
touching that sacred blood-money in the savings-bank. 
It had been on that occasion that Ida had made the 
remark to her about her always considering that house 
as her home, and had done so with that odd expression 
which caused Maria to speculate. Maria decided that 
night, as she lay awake in bed, that Ida had something 
on her mind which she was keeping a secret for the 
present. The surmise was quite justified, but Maria 
had not the least suspicion of what it was until three 
days before her vacation was to end, when Ida received 
a letter with the Amity post-mark, directed in Aunt 
Maria's precise, cramped handwriting. She spoke about 
it to Maria, who had brought it herself from the office 
that evening after Evelyn had gone to bed. 

"I had a letter from your aunt Maria this morning," 
she said, with an assumed indifference. 

"Yes; I noticed the Amity post-mark and Aunt 
Maria's writing," said Maria. 

Ida looked at her step-daughter, and for the first time 
in her life she hesitated. "I have something to say to 
you, Maria," she said, finally, in a nervous voice, so 
different from her usual one that Maria looked at her 
in surprise. She waited for her to speak further. 

"The Voorhees are going abroad," she said, abruptly. 

" Are they?" 



" Yes, they sail in three weeks — three weeks from next 
Saturday.' ' 

Maria still waited, and still her step-mother hesitated. 
At last, however, she spoke out boldly and defiantly. 

"Mrs. Voorhees's sister, Miss Angelica Wyatt, is going 
with them," said she. "Mrs. Voorhees is not going to 
take Paul; she will leave him with her mother. She 
says travelling is altogether too hard on children." 

" Does she?" 

"Yes; and so there are three in the party. Miss 
Wyatt has her state-room to herself, and — they have 
asked me to go. The passage will not cost me anything. 
All the expense I shall have will be my board, and 
travelling fares abroad.' ' 

Maria looked at her step-mother, who visibly shrank 
before her, then looked at her with defiant eyes. 

"Then you are going ?" she said. 

"Yes. I have made up my mind that it is a chance 
which Providence has put in my way, and I should be 
foolish, even wicked, to throw it away, especially now. 
I am not well. Your dear father's death has shattered 
my nerves." 

Maria looked, with a sarcasm which she could not 
repress, at her step-mother's blooming face, and her 
rounded form. 

"I have consulted Mrs. Voorhees's physician, in New 
York," said Ida quickly, for she understood the look. 
"I consulted him when I went to the city with Mrs. 
Voorhees last Monday, and he says I am a nervous 
wreck, and he will not answer for the consequences 
unless I have a complete change of scene." 

"What about Evelyn?" asked Maria, in a dry voice. 

"I wrote to your aunt Maria about her. The letter 
I got this morning was in reply to mine. She writes 
very brusquely — she is even ill-mannered — but she says 
she is perfectly willing for Evelyn to go there and board. 

37 2 


I will pay four dollars a week — that is a large price for a 
child — and I knew you would love to have her." 

"Yes, I should; I don't turn my back upon my own 
flesh and blood," Maria said, abruptly. " I guess I shall 
be glad to have her, poor little thing! with her father 
dead and her mother forsaking her." 

"I think you must be very much like your aunt 
Maria," said Ida, in a cool, disagreeable voice. " I would 
fight against it, if I were you, Maria. It is not inter- 
esting, such a way as hers. It is especially not inter- 
esting to gentlemen. Gentlemen never like girls who 
speak so quickly and emphatically. They like girls to 
be gentle." 

"I don't care what gentlemen think," said Maria, 
"but I do care for my poor, forsaken little sister." 
Maria's voice broke with rage and distress. 

"You are exceedingly disagreeable, Maria," said Ida, 
with the radiant air of one who realizes her own perfect 

Maria's lip curled. She said nothing. 

"Evelyn's wardrobe is in perfect order for the sum- 
mer," said Ida. "Of course she can wear her white 
frocks in warm weather, and she has her black silk 
frocks and coat. I have plenty of black sash ribbons 
for her to wear with her white frocks. You will see to 
it that she always wears a black sash with a white frock, 
I hope, Maria. I should not like people in Amity to 
think I was lacking in respect to your father's memory." 

"Yes, I will be sure that Evelyn wears a black sash 
with a white frock," replied Maria, in a bitter voice. 

She rose abruptly and left the room. Up in her own 
chamber she threw herself face downward upon her bed, 
and wept the tears of one who is oppressed and helpless 
at the sight of wrong and disloyalty to one beloved. 
Maria hardly thought of Evelyn in her own, personality 
at all. She thought of her as her dead father's child, 



whose mother was going away and leaving her within 
less than three weeks after her father's death. She lost 
sight of her own happiness in having the child with her, 
in the bitter reflection over the disloyalty to her father. 

"She never cared at all for father," she muttered to 
herself — "never at all; and now she does not really care 
because he is gone. She is perfectly delighted to be 
free, and have money enough to go to Europe, although 
she tries to hide it," 

Maria felt as if she had caught sight of a stone of 
shame in the place where a wife's and mother's heart 
should have been. She felt sick with disgust, as if she 
had seen some monster. It never occurred to her that 
she was possibly unjust to Ida, who was, after all, as 
she was made, a being on a very simple and primitive 
plan, with an acute perception of her own welfare and 
the means whereby to achieve it. Ida was in reality as 
innocently self-seeking as a butterfly or a honey-bee. 
She had never really seen anybody in the world except 
herself. She had been born humanity blind, and it 
was possibly no more her fault than if she had been 
born with a hump. 

The next day Ida went to New York with Mrs. Voor- 
hees to complete some preparations for her journey, and 
to meet Mrs. Voorhees's sister, who was expected to 
arrive from the South, where she had been spending the 
winter. That evening the Voorheeses came over and dis- 
cussed their purchases, and Miss Wyatt, the sister, came 
with them. She was typically like Mrs. Voorhees, only 
younger, and with her figure in better restraint. She 
had so far successfully fought down an hereditary ten- 
dency to avoirdupois. She had brilliant yellow hair and 
a brilliant complexion, like her sister, and she was as 
well, even better, dressed. Ida had purchased that day 
a steamer-rug, a close little hat, and a long coat for the 
voyage, and the women talked over the purchases and 



their plans for travel with undisguised glee. Once, when 
Ida met Maria's sarcastic eyes, she colored a little and 
complained of a headache, which she had been suffering 
with all day. 

" Yes, there is no doubt that you are simply a nervous 
wreck, and you would break down entirely without the 
sea-voyage and the change of scene," said Mrs. Voorhees, 
in her smooth, emotionless voice and with a covert 
glance at Maria. Ida had confided to her the attitude 
which she knew Maria took with reference to her going 

"All I regret — all that mars my perfect delight in 
the prospect of the trip — is parting with my darling lit- 
tle Paul," Mrs. Voorhees said, with a sigh. 

"That is the way I feel with regard to Evelyn," said 

Maria, who was sewing, took another stitch. She did 
not seem to hear. 

The next day but one Maria and Evelyn started for 
Amity. Ida did not go to the station with them. She 
was not up when they started. The curtains in her 
room were down, and she lay in bed, drawing down the 
corners of her mouth with resolution when Maria and 
Evelyn entered to bid her good-bye. Maria said good- 
bye first, and bent her cheek to Ida's lips; then it was 
Evelyn's turn. The little girl looked at her mother with 
fixed, solemn eyes, but there were no tears in them. 

"Mamma is so sorry she cannot even go to the station 
with her darling little girl," said Ida, "but she is com- 
pletely exhausted, and has not slept all night." 

Evelyn continued to look at her, and there came into 
her face an innocent, uncomplaining accusation. 

"Mamma cannot tell you how much she feels leaving 
her precious little daughter," w r hispered Ida, drawing the 
little figure, which resisted rigidly, towards her. "She 
would not do it if she were not afraid of losing her 
*s 375 


health completely.' ' Evelyn remained in her attitude 
of constrained affection, bending over her mother. 
"Mamma will write you very often," continued Ida. 
"Think how nice it will be for you to get letters! And 
she will bring you some beautiful things when she comes 
back." Then Ida's voice broke, and she found her 
handkerchief under her pillow and put it to her eyes. 

Evelyn, released from her mother's arm, regarded her 
with that curiosity and unconscious accusation which 
was more pitiful than grief. The child was getting her 
first sense, not of loss, for one cannot lose that which 
one has never had, but of non-possession of something 
which was her birthright. 

When at last they were on the train, Evelyn surprised 
her sister by weeping violently. Maria tried to hush her, 
but she could not. Evelyn wept convulsively at inter- 
vals all the way to New York. When they were in the 
cab, crossing the city, Maria put her arm around her 
sister and tried to comfort her. 

"What is it, precious ?" she whispered. " Do you feel 
so badly about leaving your mother?" 

"No," sobbed the little girl. " I feel so badly because 
I don't feel badly." 

Maria understood. She began talking to her of her 
future home in Amity, and the people whom she would 
see. All at once Maria reflected how Lily would be 
married to George Ramsey when she returned, that 
she should see George's wife going in and out the door 
that might have been the door of her own home, and 
she also had a keen pang of regret for the lack of regret. 
She no longer loved George Ramsey. It was nothing 
to her that he was married to Lily; but, nevertheless, 
her emotional nature, the best part of her, had under- 
gone a mutilation. Love can be eradicated, but there 
remains a void and a scar, and sometimes through their 
whole lives such scars of some people burn. 



Evelyn was happier in Amity, with Maria and her 
aunt, than she had ever been. It took a little while for 
her to grow accustomed to the lack of luxury with which 
she had always been surrounded ; then she did not mind 
it in the least. Everybody petted her, and she acquired 
a sense of importance which was not offensive, because 
she had also a sense of the importance of everybody else. 
She loved everybody. Love seemed the key-note of her 
whole nature. It was babyish love as yet, but there 
were dangerous possibilities which nobody foresaw, ex- 
cept Henry Stillman. 

" I don't know what will become of that child when she 
grows up if she can't have the man she falls in love 
with," he told Eunice one night, after Maria and Evelyn, 
who had been in for a few moments, had gone home. 

Eunice, who was not subtle, looked at him wondering- 
ly, and her husband replied to her. unspoken question. 

"That child's going to take everything hard," he said. 

"I don't see what makes you think so." 

"She is like a harp that's overstrung," said Henry. 

"How queer you talk!" 

"Well, she is; and if she is now, what is she going to 
be when she's older? Well, I hope the Lord will deal 
gently with her. He's given her too many feelings, and 
I hope He will see to it that they ain't tried too hard." 
Henry said this last with the half-bitter melancholy 
which was growing upon him. 

" I guess she will get along all right," said Eunice, com- 
fortably. " She's a pretty little girl, and her mother has 



looked out for her clothes, if she did scoot off and leave 
her. I wonder how long she's going to stay in foreign 
parts ?" 

Henry shook his head. "Do you want to know how 
long?" he said. 

"Yes. What do you mean, Henry?" 

"She's going to stay just as long as she has a good 
time there. If she has a good time there she'll stay if 
it's years." 

"You don't mean you think she would go off and 
leave that darling little girl a whole year?" 
"I said years," replied Henry. 

"Land! I don't believe it. You're dreadful hard on 
women, Henry." 

"Wait and see," said Henry. 

Time proved that Henry, with his bitter knowledge 
of the weakness of human nature, was right. Ida re- 
mained abroad. After a year's stay she wrote Maria, 
from London, that an eminent physician there said 
that he would not answer for her life if she returned to 
the scene wherein she had suffered so much. She ex- 
pressed a great deal of misery at leaving her precious 
Evelyn so long, but she did not feel that it was right 
for her to throw her life away. In a postscript to this 
letter she informed Maria, as if it were an afterthought, 
that she had let the house in Edgham furnished. She 
said it injured a house to remain unoccupied so long, 
and she felt that she ought to keep the place up for 
her poor father's sake, he had thought so much of it. 
She added that the people who rented it had no chil- 
dren except a grown-up daughter, so that everything 
would be well cared for. When Maria read the letter 
to her aunt the elder woman sniffed. 

"H'm," said she. "I ain't surprised, not a mite." 

"It keeps us here quartered on you," said Maria. 

"So far as that goes, I am tickled to death she has 


rented the house," replied Aunt Maria. "I had made 
up my mind that you would feel as if you would want 
to go to Edgham for your summer vacation, anyway, 
and I thought I would go with you and keep house, 
though I can't say that I hankered after it. The older 
I grow the more I feel as if I was best off in my own 
home, but I would have gone. So far as I am con- 
cerned I am glad she has let the house, but I must say 
I ain't surprised. You mark my words, Maria Edgham, 
and you see if what I say won't come true." 
"What is it?" 

"Ida Slome will stay over there, if she has a good 
time. She's got money enough with poor Harry's life 
insurance, and now she will have her house rent. It 
don't cost her much to keep Evelyn here, and she's got 
enough. I don't mean she's got enough to traipse 
round with duchesses and earls and that sort, but 
she's got enough. Those folks she went with have 
settled down there, haven't they?" 

"Yes, I believe so," said Maria. "Mr. Voorhees was 
an Englishman, and I believe he is in some business in 

"Well, Ida Slome is going to stay there. I shouldn't 
be surprised if Evelyn was grown up before she saw her 
mother again." 

"I can't quite believe that," Maria said. 

"When you get to be as old as I am you will believe 
more," said her aunt Maria. "You will see that folks' 
selfishness hides the whole world besides. Ida Slome is 
that kind." 

"I think she is selfish myself," said Maria, "but I 
don't believe she can leave Evelyn as long as that." 

"Wait and see," said Aunt Maria, in much the same 
tone that her brother had used towards his wife. 

Maria Stillman was right. Evelyn remained in 
Amity. She outgrew Maria's school, and attended the 



Normal School in Westbridge. Maria herself outgrew 
her little Amity school, and obtained a position as 
teacher in one of the departments of the Normal School, 
and still Ida had not returned. She wrote often, and 
in nearly every letter spoke of the probability of her 
speedy return, and in the same breath of her precarious 
health. She could not, however, avoid telling of her 
social triumphs in London. Ida was evidently having 
an aftermath of youth in her splendid maturity. She 
was evidently flattered and petted, and was thoroughly 
enjoying herself. Aunt Maria said she guessed she 
would marry again. 

" She's too old," said Maria. 

4 'Wait till you're old yourself and you won't be so 
ready to judge," said her aunt. "I ain't so sure she 

Evelyn was a young lady, and was to graduate the 
next year, and still her mother had not returned. She 
was the sweetest young creature in the world at that 
time. She was such a beauty that people used to turn 
and stare after her. Evelyn never seemed to notice it, 
but she was quite conscious, in a happy, childlike fashion, 
of her beauty. She resembled her mother to a certain 
extent, but she had nothing of Ida's hardness. Where 
her mother froze, she flamed. Two-thirds of the boys 
in the Normal School were madly in love with her, but 
Evelyn, in spite of her temperament, was slow in de- 
velopment as to her emotions. She was very childish, 
although she was full of enthusiasms and nervous 
energy. Maria had long learned that when Evelyn told 
her she was in love, as she frequently did, it did not in 
the least mean that she was, in the ordinary acceptation 
of the term. Evelyn was very imaginative. She loved 
her dreams, and she often raised, as it were, a radiance 
of rainbows about some boy of her acquaintance, but 
the brightness vanished the instant the boy made ad- 



vances. She had an almost fierce virginity of spirit in 
spite of her loving heart. She did not wish to touch 
her butterflies of life. She used to walk between her 
aunt and Maria when they were coming out of church, 
so that no boy would ask leave to go home with her. 
She clung to the girls in her class for protection when 
she went to any entertainment. Consequently her 
beautiful face, about which clustered her dark, fine hair 
like mist, aroused no envy. The other girls said that 
Evelyn Edgham was such a beauty and she did not 
know it. But Evelyn did know it perfectly, only at 
that time it filled her with a sort of timidity and shame. 
It was as if she held some splendid, heavy sword of vic- 
tory which she had not the courage to wield. She 
loved her sister better than anybody else. She had no 
very intimate friend of her own sex with whom she fell 
in love, after the fashion of most young girls. That 
might have happened had it not been for her sister, 
whom Evelyn thought of always as excelling everybody 
else in beauty and goodness and general brilliancy. 
Maria, when nearing thirty, was, in fact, as handsome 
as she had ever been. Her self-control had kept lines 
from her face. She was naturally healthy, and she, as 
well as Evelyn, had by nature a disposition to make the 
most of herself and a liking for adornment. Aunt 
Maria often told Eunice that Maria was full as good- 
looking as Evelyn, if she was older, but that was not 
quite true. Maria had never had Evelyn's actual 
beauty, her perfection as of a perfect flower; still she 
was charming, and she had admirers, whom she always 
checked, although her aunt became more and more dis- 
tressed that she did so. Always at the bottom of 
Maria's heart lay her secret. It was not a guilty 
secret. It was savored more of the absurd of tragedy 
than anything else. Sometimes Maria herself fairly 
laughed at the idea that she was married. All this 



time she wondered about Wollaston Lee. She thought, 
with a sick terror, of the possibility of his falling in 
love, and wishing to marry, and trying to secure a 
divorce, and the horrible publicity, and what people 
would say and do. She knew that a divorce would be 
necessary, although the marriage was not in reality a 
marriage at all. She had made herself sufficiently ac- 
quainted with the law to be sure that a divorce would 
be absolutely necessary in order for either herself or 
Wollaston Lee to marry again. For herself, she did not 
wish to marry, but she did wonder uneasily with regard 
to him. She was not in the least jealous; all her old, 
childish fancy for him had been killed by that strenuous 
marriage ceremony, but she dreaded the newspapers 
and the notoriety which would inevitably follow any 
attempt on either side to obtain a divorce. She dreamed 
about it often, and woke in terror, having still before 
her eyes the great, black letters on the first pages of city 
papers. She had never seen Wollaston Lee since she 
had lived in Amity. She had never even heard any- 
thing about him except once, when somebody had 
mentioned his name and spoken of seeing him at a re- 
ception, and that he was a professor in one of the minor 
colleges. She did not wish ever to repeat that ex- 
perience. Her heart had seemed to stand still, and 
she had grown so white that a lady beside her asked 
her hurriedly if she were faint. Maria had thrown off 
the faintness by a sheer effort of will, and the color had 
returned to her face, and she had laughingly replied 
with a denial. Sometimes she thought uneasily of 
Gladys Mann. The clerygman who, in his excess of 
youthful zeal, had performed the ceremony was dead. 
She had seen his obituary notice in a New York paper 
with a horrible relief. He had died quite suddenly in 
one of the pneumonia winters. But Gladys Mann and 
her possession of the secret troubled her. Gladys Mann, 



as she remembered her, had been such a slight, almost 
abortive character. She asked herself if she could keep 
such a secret, if she would have sense enough to do so. 
Gladys had married, too, a man of her own sort, who 
worked fitfully, and spent most of his money in carous- 
ing with John Dorsey and her father. Gladys had had 
a baby a few months after her marriage, and she had 
had two more since. The last time Maria had been in 
Amity was soon after Gladys's first baby was born. 
Maria had met her one day carrying the little thing 
swathed in an old shawl, with a pitiful attempt of 
finery in a white lace bonnet cocked sidewise on its 
little head, which waggled over Gladys's thin shoulder. 
Gladys, when she saw Maria, had colored and nodded, 
and almost run past her without a word. 

It was just before the beginning of Evelyn's last year 
at school when Maria received a letter from Gladys's 
mother. It was a curious composition. Mrs. Mann 
had never possessed any receptivity for education. 
The very chirography gave evidence of a rude, almost 
uncivilized mind. Maria got it one night during the 
last of August. She had gone to the post-office for the 
last mail, and all the time there had been over her a 
premonition of something unwonted of much import to 
her. The very dusty flowers and weeds by the way- 
side seemed to cry out to her as she passed them. 
They seemed no longer mere flowers and weeds, but 
hieroglyphics concerning her future, which she could 
almost interpret. 

"I wonder what is going to happen?" she thought. 
"Something is going to happen." She was glad that 
Evelyn was not with her, as usual, but had gone for a 
drive with a young friend who had a pony - carriage. 
She felt that she could not have borne her sister's 
curious glances at the letter which she was sure would 
be in the post-office box. It was there when she en- 



tered the dirty little place. She saw one letter slanted 
across the dusty glass of the box. It was not a lock 
box, and she had to ask the postmaster for the letter. 

" Number twenty-four, please," she said. 

The postmaster was both bungling and curious. He 
was a long time finding the box, then in giving her the 
letter. Maria felt dizzy. When at last he handed it 
to her with an inquisitive glance, she almost ran out of 
the office. When she was out-doors she glanced at the 
post -mark and saw it was Edgham. When she came 
to a lonely place in the road, when she was walking be- 
tween stone -walls overgrown with poison -ivy, and 
meadowsweet, and hardhack, and golden-rod, she opened 
the letter. Just as she opened it she heard the sweet 
call of a robin in the field on her left, and the low of a 
cow looking anxiously over her bars. 

The letter was written on soiled paper smelling strongly 
of tobacco, and it enclosed another smaller, sealed en- 
velope. Maria read: 

" Deer Miss, — I now tak my pen in hand to let you no that 
Gladys she is ded. She had a little boy bon, and he and she 
both died. Gladys she had been coffin for some time befoar, 
and jest befor she was took sick, she give me this letter, and sed 
for me to send it to you if ennything happened to her. 

" Excuse hast and a bad pen. Mrs. Mann." 

Maria trembled so that she could hardly stand. She 
looked hastily around; there was no one in sight. She 
sank down on a large stone which had fallen from the 
stone wall on the left. Then she opened the little, 
sealed letter. It was very short. It contained only 
one word, one word of the vulgar slang to which poor 
Gladys had become habituated through her miserable 
life, and yet this one word of slang had a meaning of 
faithfulness and honor which dignified it. Maria read, 
"Nit," and she knew that Gladys had died and had 
not told. 



It is frequently a chain of sequences whose beginnings 
are lost in obscurity which lead to events. The principal 
of the Normal School in Westbridge, which Evelyn at- 
tended and in which Maria taught, had been a certain 
Professor Lane. If he had not gone to Boston one 
morning when the weather was unusually sultry for the 
season, and if an east wind had not come up, causing 
him, being thinly clad, to take cold, which cold meant 
the beginning of a rapid consumption which hurried him 
off to Colorado, and a year later to death; if these east 
winds had not made it impossible for Wollaston Lee's 
mother, now widowed, to live with him in the college 
town where he had been stationed, a great deal which 
happened might not have come to pass at all. It was 
"the wind which bloweth where it listeth, and no man 
knoweth whence it cometh and whither it goeth," which 
precipitated the small tragedy of a human life. 

The Saturday before the fall term commenced, Evelyn 
came home from Westbridge, where she had been for 
some shopping, and she had a piece of news. She did 
not wait to remove her hat, but stood before Maria and 
her aunt, who were sewing in the sitting-room, with the 
roses nestling against the soft flying tendrils of her black 
hair. It was still so warm that she wore her summer hat. 

"What do you think !" said she. "I have such a piece 
of news!" 

" What is it, dear?" asked Maria. Aunt Maria looked 
up curiously. 

" Whv, Professor Lane has had to give up. He starts 



for Colorado Monday. He kept hoping he could stay 
here, but he went to a specialist, who told him he could 
not live six months in this climate, so he is starting right 
off. And we are to have a new principal." 

"Who is he ?" asked Maria. She felt herself trembling, 
for no reason that she could define. 

" Addie Hemingway says he is a handsome young man. 
He has been a professor in some college, but his mother 
lives with him, and the climate didn't agree with her, 
and so he had resigned and was out of a position, and 
they have sent right away for him, and he is coming. 
In fact, Addie says she thinks he has come, and that he 
and his mother are at Mrs. Land's boarding-house; but 
they are going to keep house. Addie says she has heard 
he is a young man and very handsome." 

"What is his name?" asked Maria, faintly. 

Evelyn looked at her and laughed. "The funniest 
thing about it all is," said she, " that he comes originally 
from Edgham, and you must have known him, Maria. 
I don't remember him at all, but I guess you must. His 
name is Lee, and his first name — I can't remember his 
first name. Did you know a young man about your 
age in Edgham named Lee?" 

" Wollaston?" asked Maria. She hardly knew her 
own voice. 

"Yes; that is it — Wollaston. It is an odd name. 
How queer it will seem to have a handsome young man 
for principal instead of poor old Professor Lane. I am 
sorry, for my part; I liked Professor Lane. I went to 
the book-store in Westbridge and bought a book for him 
to read on the journey, and left it at the door. I sent 
in my remembrances, and told the girl how sorry I was 
that Professor Lane was not well." 

"That was a good girl," said Maria. "I am glad you 
did." She was as white as death, but she continued 
sewing steadily. 



Evelyn went to the looking-glass and removed her 
hat, and readjusted her flying hair around her glowing 
face. She did not notice her sister's pallor and expres- 
sion of shock, almost of horror, but Aunt Maria did. 
Finally she spoke. 

"What on earth ails you, Maria Edgham?" she said, 
harshly. When Aunt Maria was anxious, she was always 
harsh, and seemed to regard the object of her solicitude 
as a culprit. 

Evelyn turned abruptly and saw her sister's face, then 
she ran to her and threw her arms around her neck and 
pulled her head against her shoulder. "What is it? 
What is it?" she cried, in her sobbing, emotional voice, 
which any stress aroused. 

Maria raised her head and pushed Evelyn gently away. 
" Nothing whatever is the matter, dear," she said, firmly, 
and took up her work again. 

"Folks don't turn as white as sheets if nothing is the 
matter," said Aunt Maria, still in her harsh, accusing 
voice. " I want to know what is the matter. Did your 
dinner hurt you? You ate that lemon -pie." 

"I feel perfectly well, Aunt Maria," replied Maria, 
making one of her tremendous efforts of will, which 
actually sent the color back to her face. She smiled 
as she spoke. 

"You do look better," said Aunt Maria doubtfully. 
"Yes, you do," said Evelyn. 

"Maybe it was the light," said Aunt Maria in a re- 
assured tone. 

"There isn't much light to see to sew by, I know that," 
Maria said in an off-hand tone. " I believe I will take a 
little run down to the post-office for the night mail. 
Evelyn, you can help Aunt Maria get supper, can't you, 

"Of course I can," said Evelyn. "But are you sure 
you are well enough to go alone?" 



"Nonsense!" said Maria, rising and folding her work. 
"Do you think anything is the matter with sister?" 
Evelyn asked Aunt Maria after Maria had gone. 
"Don't ask me," replied Aunt Maria curtly. 
"Aunt Maria!" 

"Professor Lane isn't married. You don't suppose 
sister — " 

"What a little goose you are, Evelyn Edgham!" cried 
Aunt Maria, almost fiercely turning upon her. " Do you 
suppose if Maria Edgham had wanted any man she 
couldn't have got him ?" 

"I suppose she could," said Evelyn meekly. "And 
I know Professor Lane is so much older, but he always 
seemed to like sister, and I didn't know but she felt 
badly because he was so ill." 

"Stuff!" said Aunt Maria. "Come, you had better 
set the table. I have got to make some biscuits for 
supper. They won't be any more than done by the 
time Maria gets back." 

"Did you think she looked so very pale?" asked 
Evelyn, following her aunt out of the room. 

"No, I didn't think she looked pale at all when I came 
to look at her," said Aunt Maria, sharply. "She looked 
just as she always does. It w T as the light." 

Aunt Maria unhesitatingly lied. She knew that her 
niece had been pale, and she believed that it was on 
account of Professor Lane. She thought to herself what 
fools girls were. There Maria had thrown away such a 
chance as George Ramsey, and was very likely breaking 
her heart in secret over this consumptive, old enough 
to be her father. 

Evelyn also believed, in her heart of hearts, that her 
sister was in love with Professor Lane, but she took a 
more sentimental view of the matter. She was of the 
firm opinion that love has no age, and then Professor 



Lane had never seemed exactly old to her, and he was 
a very handsome man. She thought of poor Maria with 
the tenderest pity and sympathy. It almost seemed to 
her that she herself was in love with Professor Lane, and 
that his going so far away to recover his health was a 
cruel blow to her. She thought of poor Maria walking 
to the post-office and brooding over her trouble, and her 
tender heart ached so hard that it might have been 
Maria's own. 

But Maria, walking to the post-office, realized not so 
much an ache in her heart as utter horror and terror. 
She asked herself how could she possibly continue teach- 
ing in that school if Wollaston Lee were principal ; how 
could she endure the daily contact with him which 
would be inevitable. She wondered if he could possibly 
have known that she was teaching in that school when he 
accepted the position. Such a deadly fear was over her 
that her class-room and the great pile of school build- 
ings seemed to her fancy as horrible as a cage of wild 
beasts. She felt such a loathing of the man who was 
legally, although not really, her husband, that the loath- 
ing itself filled her with shame and disgust at herself. 
She told herself that it was horrible, horrible, that she 
could not endure it, that it was impossible. She was 
in a fairly desperate mood. She had a sudden impulse 
to run away and leave everybody and everything, even 
Evelyn and her aunt, whom she loved so well. She felt 
pitiless towards everybody except herself. She took out 
her pocket-book and counted the money which it con- 
tained. There were fifteen dollars and some loose change. 
The railroad station was on a road parallel to the one on 
which she was walking. An express train flashed by as 
she stood there. Suddenly Maria became possessed of 
one of those impulses which come to everybody, but to 
which comparatively few yield in lifetimes. The girl 
gathered up her skirts and broke into a run for the rail- 



road station. She knew that there was an accommoda- 
tion train due soon after the express. She reached the 
dusty platform, in fact, just as the train came in. There 
were no other passengers from Amity except a woman 
whom she did not know, dragging a stout child by the 
arm. The child was enveloped in clothing to such an 
extent that it could scarcely walk. It stumbled over its 
voluminous white coat. Nobody could have told its sex. 
It cast a look of stupid discomfort at Maria, then its 
rasped little face opened for a wail. " Shet up!" said the 
mother, and she dragged more forcibly at the podgy 
little arm, and the child broke into a lop-sided run 
towards the cars. 

Maria had no time to get a ticket. She only had 
time for that one glance at the helpless, miserable child, 
before she climbed up the steep car-steps. She found 
an empty seat, and shrugged close to the window. She 
did not think very much of what she was doing. She 
thought more of the absurdly uncomfortable child, over- 
swathed in clothing, and over-disciplined with mother- 
love, she could not have told why. She wondered what 
it would be like to have an ugly, uninteresting, vicious- 
ly expostulating little one dragging at her hand. The 
mother, although stout and mature-looking, was not 
much older than she. It seemed to her that the being 
fond of such a child, and being happy under such circum- 
stances, would involve as much of a vital change in her- 
self as death itself. And yet she wondered if such a 
change were possible with all women, herself included. 
She gazed absently at the pale landscape past which the 
train was flying. The conductor had to touch her arm 
before he could arouse her attention, when he asked for 
her ticket. Then she looked at him vacantly, and he 
had to repeat his " Ticket, please." 

Maria opened her pocket-book and said, mechanically, 
the name of the first station which came into her head, 



"Ridgewood." Ridgewood was a small city about fif- 
teen miles distant. She had sometimes been there shop- 
ping. She gave the conductor a five-dollar bill, and he 
went away, murmuring something about the change. 
When he returned with the rebate-slip and the change, 
he had to touch her shoulder again to arrest her atten- 

" Change, miss," said the conductor, and "you can 
get ten cents back on this at the station." 

Maria took the change and the slip and put them in 
her pocket-book, and the conductor passed on with a 
quick, almost imperceptible backward glance at her. 
Maria sat very still. The child who had got on at 
Amity began to wail again, and its outcries filled the 
whole car. To Maria it seemed like the natural out- 
burst of an atmosphere overcharged with woe, and the 
impotent rage and regret of the whole race, as a cloud is 
charged with electricity. She felt that she herself would 
like to burst into a wild wail, and struggle and wrestle 
against fate with futile members, as the child fought 
against its mother with its fat legs in shoes too large, 
and its bemittened hands. However, she began to get a 
certain comfort from the rapid motion. She continued 
to stare out of the window at the landscape, which fast 
disappeared under the gathering shadows. The car 
lamps were lit. Maria still looked, however, out of the 
window; the lights in the house windows, and red and 
green signal - lights, gave her a childish interest. She 
forgot entirely about herself. She turned her back upon 
herself and her complex situation of life with infinite 
relief. She did not wonder what she would do when she 
reached Ridgewood. She did not think any more of 
herself. It was as if she had come into a room of life 
without any looking-glasses, and she was no longer 
visible to her own consciousness. She did not look at 
the other passengers. All that was evident to her of 
26 39 1 


the existence of any in the car besides herself was the 
unceasing wail of the child, and its mother's half -sooth- 
ing, half -scolding voice. She did not see the passengers 
who boarded the train at the next station beyond Amity, 
and that Wollaston Lee was one of them. Indeed, she 
might not at once have recognized him, although the 
man retained in a marked degree the features of the 
boy. Wollaston had grown both tall and broad-shoul- 
dered, and had a mustache. He was a handsome 
fellow, well dressed, and with an easy carriage, and he 
had an expression of intelligent good-humor which made 
more than one woman in the car look at him. Although 
Maria did not see him, he saw her at once, and recognized 
her, and his handsome face paled. The ridiculous com- 
plexity of his position towards her had not tended to 
make him very happy. He had kept the secret as well 
as Maria ; for him, as for her, a secret was a heavy bur- 
den, almost amounting to guilt. He continued to glance 
furtively at her from time to time. He thought that she 
was very pretty, and also that there was something amiss 
with her. He, as well as the girl, had entirely gotten 
over his boyish romance, but the impulse to honorable 
dealing and duty towards her had not in the least 

When the train stopped at Ridgewood he rose. Maria 
did not stir. Wollaston stopped, and saw the conductor 
touch Maria, and heard him say, "This is your station, 

Maria rose mechanically and followed the conductor 
through the car. When she had descended the steps 
Wollaston, who had gotten off just in advance, stood 
aside and waited. He felt uneasy without just knowing 
why. It seemed to him that there was something 
strange about the girl's bearing. He thought so the 
more when she stood motionless on the platform and 
remained there a moment or more after the train had 



moved out; then she went towards a bench outside the 
station and sat down. Wollaston made up his mind 
that there was something strange, and that he must 
speak to her. 

He approached her, and he could hear his heart beat. 
He stood in front of her, and raised his hat. Maria did 
not look up. Her eyes seemed fixed on a fringe of 
wood across the track in which some katydids were 
calling, late as it was. That wood, with its persistent 
voices of unseen things, served to turn her thought 
from herself, just as the cry of the child had done. 

"Miss Edgham, ,, said Wollaston, in a strained voice. 
It suddenly occurred to him that that was not the girl's 
name at all, that she was in reality Mrs. Lee, not Miss 

Maria did not seem to see him until he had repeated 
her name again. Then she gave a sudden start and 
looked up. An electric light on the platform made his 
face quite plain. She knew him at once. She did not 
make a sound, but rose with a sudden stealthy motion 
like that of a wild, hunted thing who leaves its covert 
for farther flight. But Wollaston laid his hand on her 
shoulder and forced her gently back to her seat. There 
was no one besides themselves on the platform. They 
were quite alone. 

"Don't be afraid," he said. But Maria, looking up 
at him, fairly chattered with terror. Her lips were 
open, she made inarticulate noises like a frightened 
little monkey. Her eyes dilated. This seemed to her 
incredibly monstrous, that in fleeing she should have 
come to that from which she fled. All at once the 
species of mental coma in which she had been cleared 
away, and she saw herself and the horrible situation in 
which her flight had placed her. The man looked down 
at her with the utmost kindness, concern, and pity. 

"Don't be afraid," he said again; but Maria con- 


tinned to look at him with that cowering, hunted 

"Where are you going ?" asked Wollaston, and sud- 
denly his voice became masterful. He realized that 
there was something strange, undoubtedly, about all 

"I don't know," Maria said, dully. 
"You don't know?" 
"No, I don't." 

Maria raised her head and looked down the track. 
"I am going on the train," said she, with another wild 

"What train?" 

"The next train." 

"The next train to where?" 

"The next train to Springfield," said Maria, men- 
tioning the first city which came into her mind. 

"What are you going to Springfield for so late? 
Have you friends there?" 

"No," said Maria, in a hopeless voice. 

Wollaston sat down beside her. He took one of her 
little, cold hands, and held it in spite of a feeble struggle 
on her part to draw it away. "Now, see here, Maria," 
he said, "I know there is something wrong. What is 

His tone was compelling. Maria looked straight 
ahead at the gloomy fringe of woods, and answered, in 
a lifeless voice, "I heard you were coming." 

"And that is the reason vou were going away?" 


"See here, Maria," said Wollaston, eagerly, "upon 
my honor I did not know myself until this very after- 
noon that you were one of the teachers in the West- 
bridge Academy. If I had known I w r ould have re- 
fused the pOvSition, although my mother was very 
anxious for me to accept it. I would refuse it now if 



it were not too late, but I promise you to resign very- 
soon if you wish it." 

"I don't care," said Maria, still in the same lifeless 
tone. "I am going away." 

''Going where?" 

"To Springfield. I don't know. Anywhere." 

Wollaston leaned over her and spoke in a whisper. 
"Maria, do you want me to take steps to have it an- 
nulled?" he asked. "It could be very easily done. 
There was, after all, no marriage. It is simply a ques- 
tion of legality. No moral question is involved." 

A burning blush spread over Maria's face. She 
snatched her hand away from his. "Do you think I 
could bear it?" she whispered back, fiercely. 

"Bear what ?" asked the young man, in a puzzled tone. 

"The publicity, the — newspapers. Nobody has 
known, not one of mv relatives. Do you think I could 
bear it?" 

"I will keep the secret as long as you desire," said 
Wollaston. "I only wish to act honorably and for 
your happiness." 

"There is only one reason which could induce me to 
give my consent to the terrible publicity," said Maria. 

"What is that?" 

"If — you wished to marry anybody else." 

"I do not," said Wollaston, with a half-bitter laugh. 
"You can have your mind easy on that score. I have 
not thought of such a thing as possible for me." 

Maria cast a look of quick interest at him. Suddenly 
she saw his possible view of the matter, that it might be 
hard for him to forego the happiness which other young 
men had. 

"I would not shrink at all," she said, gently, "if at 
any time you saw anybody whom you wished to marry. 
You need not hesitate. I am not so selfish as that. I 
do not wish your life spoiled." 



Wollaston laughed pleasantly. "My life is not to be 
spoiled because of any such reason as that," he said, 
"and I have not seen anybody whom I wished to 
marry. You know I have mother to look out for, and 
she makes a pleasant home for me. You need not 
worry about me, but sometimes I have worried a little 
about you, poor child.' ' 

"You need not, so far as that is concerned,' 1 cried 
Maria, almost angrily. A sense of shame and humilia- 
tion was over her. She did not love Wollaston Lee. 
She felt the same old terror and disgust at him, but it 
mortified her to have him think that she might wish to 
marry anybody else. 

"Well, I am glad of that," said Wollaston. "I sup- 
pose you like your work." 


"After all, work is the main thing," said Wollaston. 

"Yes," assented Maria, eagerly. 

Wollaston returned suddenly to the original topic. 
"Were you actually running away because you heard I 
was coming?" he said. 

"Yes, I suppose I was," Maria replied, in a hopeless, 
defiant sort of fashion. 

"Do you actually know anybody in Springfield?" 


"Have you much money with you?" 

"I had fifteen dollars and a few cents before I paid 
my fare here." 

"Good God!" cried Wollaston. Then he added, after 
a pause of dismay, almost of terror, during which he 
looked at the pale little figure beside him, "Do you 
realize what might have happened to you?" 

"I don't think I realized much of anything except to 
get away," replied Maria. 

Wollaston took her hand again and held it firmly. 
"Now listen to me, Maria," he said. "On Monday I 



shall have to begin teaching in the Westbridge Academy. 
I don't see how I can do anything else. But now listen. 
I give you my word of honor, I will not show by word or 
deed that you are anything to me except a young lady 
who used to live in the same village with me. I shall 
have to admit that." 

"I am not anything else to you," Maria flashed out. 

" Of course not," Wollaston responded, quietly. " But 
I give you my word of honor that I will make no claim 
upon you, that I will resign my position when you say 
the word, that I will keep the wretched, absurd secret 
until you yourself tell me that you wish for — an annul- 
ment of the fictitious tie between us." 

Maria sat still. 

" You will not think of running away now, will you?" 
Wollaston said, and there was a caressing tone in his 
voice, as if he were addressing a child. 

Maria did not reply at once. 

"Tell me, Maria," said Wollaston. "You will not 
think of doing such a desperate thing, which might ruin 
your whole life, when I have promised you that there is 
no reason?" 

"No, I will not," Maria said. 

Wollaston rose and went nearer the electric light and 
looked at his watch. Then he came back. "Now, 
Maria, listen to me again, " he said. " I have some busi- 
ness in Ridgewood. I would not attend to it to-night 
but I have made an appointment with a man and I don't 
see my way out of breaking it. It is about a house 
which I want to rent. Mother doesn't like the boarding- 
house at Westbridge, and in fact our furniture is on the 
road and I have no place to store it, and I am afraid 
there are other parties who want to rent this house, that 
I shall lose it if I do not keep the appointment. But I 
have only a little way to go, and it will not keep me 
long. I can be back easily inside of half an hour. The 



next train to Amity stops here in about thirty-seven 
minutes. Now I want you to go into the waiting-room, 
and sit there until I come back. Can I trust you?" 

" Yes," said Maria, with a curious docility. She rose. 

" You had better buy your ticket back to Amity, and 
when I come into the station, I think it is better that I 
should only bow to you, especially if others should hap- 
pen to be there. Can I trust you to stay there and not 
get on board any train but the one which goes to Amity ? " 

''Yes, you can," said Maria, with the same docility 
which was born of utter weariness and the subjection 
to a stronger will. 

She went into the waiting-room and bought her ticket, 
then sat down on a settee in the dusty, desolate place 
and waited. There were two women there besides her- 
self, and they conversed very audibly about their family 
affairs. Maria listened absently to astonishing disclos- 
ures. The man in the ticket-office was busy at the 
telegraph, whose important tick made an accompaniment 
to the chatter of the women, both middle-aged, and both 
stout, and both with grievances which they aired with a 
certain delight. One had bought a damaged dress-pat- 
tern in Ridgewood, and had gone that afternoon to 
obtain satisfaction. "I set there in Yates & Upham's 
four mortal hours," said she, in a triumphant tone, "and 
they kep' comin' and askin' me things, and savin' would 
I do this and that, but I jest stuck to what I said I would 
do in the first place, and finally they give in." 

"What did you want?" asked the other woman. 

"Well, I wanted my money back that I had paid for 
the dress, and I wanted the dressmaker paid for cuttin' 
it — it was all cut an' fitted — and I wanted my fares back 
and forth paid, too." 

"You don't mean to say they did all that?" said the 
other woman, in a tone of admiration. 

"Yes, sir, they did. Finally Mr. Upham himself came 


and talked with me, and he said he would allow me 
what I asked. I tell you I marched out of that store, 
when I'd got my money back, feelin' pretty well set up." 

"I should think you would have," said the other 
woman, in an admiring tone. " You do beat the Dutch!" 

Then the women fell to talking about the niece of one 
of them who had been jilted by her lover. " He treated 
her as mean as pusley," one woman said. " There he'd 
been keepin' company with poor Aggie three mortal 
years, comin' regular every Wednesday and Sunday 
night, and settin' up with her, and keepin' oft other 

" I think he treated her awful mean," assented the 
other woman. "I don't know what I would have said 
if it had been my Mamie." 

Maria detected a covert tone of delight in this woman's 
voice. She realized instinctively that the woman had 
been jealous that her companion's niece had been pre- 
ferred to her daughter, and was secretly glad that she 
was jilted. "How does she take it?" she asked. 

"She just cries her eyes out, poor child," her friend 
answered. "She sets and cries all day, and I guess she 
don't sleep much. Her mother is thinkin' of sendin' 
her to visit her married sister Lizzie down in Hartford, 
and see if that won't divert her mind a little." 

" I should think that would be a very good idea," said 
the other woman. Maria, listening listlessly, whirled 
about herself in the current of her own affairs, thought 
what a cat that woman was, and how she did not in the 
least care if she was a cat. 

Wollaston Lee was not gone very long. He bowed 
and said good-evening to Maria, then seated himself at 
a little distance. The two women looked at him with 
sharp curiosity. "It would be the best thing for poor 
Aggie if she could get her mind set on another young 
man," said the woman whose niece had been jilted. 



"That is so," assented the other woman. 

"There's as good fish in the sea as has ever been 
caught, as I told her," said the first woman, with specu- 
lative eyes upon Wollaston Lee. 

"It was not long before the train for Amity arrived. 
Wollaston, with an almost imperceptible gesture, looked 
at Maria, who immediately arose. Wollaston sat behind 
her on the train. Just before they reached Amity he 
came forward and spoke to her in a low voice. " I have 
to go on to Westbridge," he said. " Will there be a car- 
riage at the station?" 

"There always is," Maria replied. 

"Don't think of walking up at this hour. It is too 
late. What — " Wollaston hesitated a second, then he 
continued, in a whisper, "What are you going to tell 
your aunt?" he said. 

"Nothing," replied Maria. 

"Can you?" 

"I must. I don't see any other way, unless I tell 

Wollaston lifted his hat, with an audible remark about 
the beauty of the evening, and passed through into the 
next car, which was a smoker. The two women of the 
station were seated a little in the rear across the aisle 
from Maria. She heard one of them say to the other, 
"I wonder who that girl was he spoke to?" and the 
other's muttered answer that she didn't know. 

Contrary to her expectations, Maria did not find a 
carriage at the Amity station, and she walked home. 
It was late, and the village houses were dark. The elec- 
tric lights still burned at wide intervals, lighting up 
golden boughs of maples until they looked like veritable 
branches of precious metal. Maria hurried along. She 
had a half-mile to walk. She did not feel afraid; a 
sense of confusion and relief was over her, with another 
dawning sense which she did not acknowledge to herself. 



An enormous load had been lifted from her mind ; there 
was no doubt about that. A feeling of gratitude and 
confidence in the young man who had just left her 
warmed her through and through. When she reached 
her aunt's house she saw a light in the sitting-room win- 
dows, and immediately she turned into the path the door 
opened and her aunt stood there. 

"Maria Edgham, where have you been?" asked Aunt 

" I have been to walk," replied Maria. 

" Been to walk! Do you know what time it is ? It is 
'most midnight. I've been 'most crazy. I was just goin' 
in to get Henry up and have him hunt for you." 

"I am glad you didn't," said Maria, entering and re- 
moving her hat. She smiled at her aunt, who continued 
to gaze at her with the sharpest curiosity. 

"Where have you been to walk this time of night?" 
she demanded. 

Maria looked at her aunt, and said, quite gravely, 
"Aunt Maria, you trust me, don't you?" 

"Of course I do ; but I want to know. I have a right 
to know." 

"Yes, you have," said Maria, "but I shall never tell 
you as long as I live where I have been to-night." 

"I shall never tell you where I have been, only you 
can rest assured that there is no harm — that there has 
been no harm." 

"You don't mean to ever tell?" 

"No." Maria took a lamp from the sitting-room 
table, lighted it, and went up-stairs. 

"You are just like your mother — just as set," Aunt 
Maria called after her, in subdued tones. "Here I've 
been watchin' till I was 'most crazy." 

"I am real sorry," Maria called back. "Good-night, 
Aunt Maria. Such a thing will never happen again." 



Directly Maria was in her own room she pulled down 
her window-shades. She did not see a man, who had 
followed at a long distance all the way from the sta- 
tion, moving rapidly up the street. It was Wollaston 
Lee. He had seen, from the window of the smoker, that 
there was no carriage waiting, had jumped off the train, 
entered the station, then stolen out and followed Maria 
until he saw her safely in her home. Then the last 
trolley had gone, and he walked the rest of the way to 


The next morning, which was Sunday, Maria could 
not go to church. An utter weariness and lassitude, to 
which she was a stranger, was over her. Evelyn re- 
mained at home with her. Evelyn still had the idea 
firmly fixed in her mind that Maria was grieving over 
Professor Lane. It was also firmly fixed in Aunt Maria's 
mind. Aunt Maria, who had both suspicion and im- 
agination, had conceived a reason for Maria's mysterious 
absence the night before. She knew that Professor Lane 
was to take a night train from Westbridge. She jumped 
at the conclusion that Maria had gone to Westbridge to 
see him off, and had missed the trolley connection. 
There were two trolley -lines between Amity and West- 
bridge, and that accounted for her walking to the house. 
Aunt Maria was mortified and angry. She would have 
been mortified to have her niece so disturbed over any 
man who had not proposed marriage to her, but when 
she reflected upon Professor Lane, his sunken chest, his 
skinny throat, and his sparse gray hair, although he was 
yet a handsome man for his years, she experienced a 
positive nausea. She was glad when Evelyn came down 
in the morning and said that Maria had called to her, 
and said she did not want any breakfast and did not feel 
able to go to church. 

" Do you think sister is going to be sick, Aunt Maria ?" 
Evelyn said, anxiously. Then her sweet eyes met her 
aunt's, and both the young and the old maid blushed at 
the thought which they simultaneously had. 

"Sick? No," replied Aunt Maria, crossly. 



"I guess I will stay home with her, anyway," Evelyn 
said, timidly. 

"Well, you can do jest as you are a mind to," said 
Aunt Maria. "I'm goin' to meetin'. If folks want to 
act like fools, I ain't goin' to stay at home and coddle 

"Oh, Aunt Maria, I don't think sister acts like a fool," 
Evelyn said, in her sweet, distressed voice. "She looks 
real pale and acts all tired out." 

"I guess she'll survive it," said Aunt Maria, pouring 
the coffee. 

"Don't you think I had better make some toast and 
a cup of tea for her, if she does say she doesn't want any 

"Maria Edgham is old enough to know her own mind, 
and if she says she don't want any breakfast I'd let her 
go without till she was hungry," said Aunt Maria. She 
adored Maria above any living thing, and just in propor- 
tion to the adoration she felt angry with her. It was a 
great relief to her not to see her. 

"Aren't you going up-stairs and see if you think sister 
is sick?" Evelyn asked, as Aunt Maria was tying her 

"No, I ain't," replied Aunt Maria, "It's all I can do 
to walk to church. I ain't goin' to climb the stairs for 
nothin'. I ain't worried a mite about her." 

After Aunt Maria was gone Evelyn made a slice of 
toast, placed it on a pretty plate, and made also some 
tea, which she poured into a very dainty cup. Then 
she carried the toast and tea on a little tray up to 
Maria's room. 

"Please sit up and drink this tea and eat this toast, 
sister," she said, pleadingly. 

"Thank you, dear," said Maria, "but I don't feel as 
if I could eat anything." 

"It's real nice," said Evelyn, looking with a childish 


wistfulness from her sister to the toast. Maria could 
not withstand the look. She raised herself in bed and 
let Evelyn place the tray on her knees. Then she 
forced herself to drink the tea and eat the toast. Evelyn 
all the time watched her with that sweet wistfulness of 
expression which was one of her chief charms. Evelyn, 
when she looked that way, was irresistible. There was 
so much anxious love in her tender face that it made it 
fairly angelic. Evelyn's dark hair was tumbling about 
her face like a child's, in a way which she often wore it 
when at home when there was no company. It was 
tied with a white ribbon bow. She wore a black skirt 
and a little red breakfast-jacket faced with white. As 
her sister gradually despatched the tea and toast, the 
look of wistfulness on her face changed to one of radiant 
delight. She clapped her hands. 

1 1 There," she said, "I knew you would eat your 
breakfast if I brought it to you. Wasn't that toast 


"I made it my own self. Aunt Maria was cross. 
Don't you think it is odd that any one who loves any- 
body should ever be cross?" 

"It often happens," said Maria, laying back on her 

"Of course, Aunt Maria loves us both, but she loves 
you especially; but she is often cross with you. I 
don't understand it." 

"She doesn't love me any better than she does you, 
dear," said Maria. 

"Oh yes, she does; but I am not jealous. I am very 
glad I am not, for I could be terribly jealous." 

"Nonsense, precious!" 

"Yes, I could. Sometimes I imagine how jealous I 
could be, and it frightens me." 

"You must not imagine such things, dear." 


"I have always imagined things," said Evelyn. Her 
face took on a very serious, almost weird and tragic ex- 
pression. Maria had as she had often had before, a 
glimpse of dangerous depths of emotion in her sister's 

"That is no reason why you should always imagine," 
she said, with a little, weary sigh. 

Directly the look of loving solicitude appeared on 
Evelyn's face. She went close to her sister, and laid 
her soft, glowing cheek against hers. 

" I am so sorry, dearest," she said. " Sorry for what- 
ever troubles you." 

"What makes you think anything troubles m< ; " 

"You seem to me as if something troubled you." 

"Nothing does," said Maria. She pushed Evelyn 
gently away and sat up. "I was only tired out," she 
said, firmly. "The breakfast has made me feel better. 
I will get up now and write some letters." 

"Wouldn't you rather lie still and let me read to 

"No, dear, thank you. I will get up now." 

Evelyn remained in the room while her sister brushed 
her hair and dressed. "I wonder what kind of a man 
the new principal will be?" she said, looking dreamily 
out of the window. She had, in fact, already had her 
dreams about him. As yet she had admitted men to 
her dreams only, but she had her dreams. She did not 
notice her sister's change of color. She continued to 
gaze absently out of the window at the autumn land- 
scape. A golden maple branch swung past the win- 
dow in a crisp breeze, now and then a leaf flew away 
like a yellow bird and became a part of the golden 
carpet on the ground. "Addie Hemingway says he is 
very handsome," she said, meditatively. "Do you re- 
member him, sister — that is, do you remember how he 
looked when he was a boy?" 



"As I remember him he was a very good-looking 
boy," Maria said. 

"I wonder if he is engaged ?" Evelyn said. 

Suddenly her soft cheeks flamed. 

"I don't see what that matters to you," Maria re- 
torted, in a tone which she almost never used towards 
Evelyn — "to you or any of the other girls. Mr. Lee is 
coming to teach you, not to become engaged to his 

"Of course I know he is," Evelyn said, humbly. "I 
didn't mean to be silly, sister. I was only wondering." 

"The less a young girl wonders about a man the 
better," Maria said. 

"Well, I won't wonder, only it does seem rather 
natural to wonder. Didn't you use to wonder when 
you were a young girl, sister?" 

"It does not make it right if I did." 

"I don't think you could do anything wrong, sister," 
Evelyn returned, with one of her glances of love and 
admiration. Suddenly Maria wondered herself what a 
man would do if he were to receive one of those glances. 

Evelyn continued her little chatter. "Of course 
none of us girls ever wondered about Professor Lane, 
because he was so old," she said. Then she caught her- 
self with an anxious glance at her sister. "But he was 
very handsome, too," she added, "and I don't know 
why we shouldn't have thought about him, and he 
wasn't so very old. I think Colorado will cure him." 

"I hope so," Maria said, absently. She had no more 
conception of what was in Evelyn's mind with regard 
to herself and Professor Lane than she had of the 
thought of an inhabitant of Mars. Ineffable distances 
of surmise and imagination separated the two in the 
same room. 

Evelyn continued: "Mr. Lee isn't married, anyway," 
she said. "Addie said so. His mother keeps house 
37 407 


for him. Wasn't that a dreadful thing in the paper 
last night, sister ?" 

' ' What?" asked Maria. 

" About that girl's getting another woman's husband 
to fall in love with her, and get a divorce, and then 
marrying him. I don't see how she could. I would 
rather die than marry a man who had been divorced. 
I would think of the other wife all the time. Don't you 
think it was dreadful, sister?" 

"Why do you read such things?" asked Maria, and 
there was a hard ring in her voice. It seemed to her 
that she was stretched on a very rack of innocence and 

"It was all there was in the paper to read," replied 
Evelyn, "except advertisements. There were pictures 
of the girl, and wife, and the man, and the two little 
children. Of course it was worse because there were 
children, but it was dreadful anyway. I would never 
speak to that girl again, not if she had been my dearest 

"You had better read a library book, if there is noth- 
ing better than that to read in a paper," said Maria. 

"There wasn't, except a prize-fight, and I don't care 
anything about prize-fights, and I believe there were 
races, too, but I don't know anything about races." 

"I don't see that you know very much about mar- 
riage and divorce," Maria said, adjusting her collar. 

"Are you angry with me, sister? Don't you want 
me to fasten your collar?" 

"No, I can fasten it myself, thank you, dear. No, I 
am not angry with you, only I do wish you wouldn't 
read such stuff. Put the paper away, and get a book 

"I will if you want me to, sister," replied Evelyn. 


The Monday when the fall term of the academy at 
Westbridge opened was a very beautiful day. The air 
was as soft as summer, but with a strange, pungent 
quality which the summer had lacked. There was a 
slightly smoky scent which exhilarated. It was a 
scent of death coming from bonfires of dead leaves and 
drying vegetation, and yet it seemed to presage life. 
When Maria and Evelyn went out to take the trolley 
for Westbridge, Maria wore a cluster of white chrysan- 
themums pinned to her blouse. The blouse itself was 
a very pretty one, Worn with a black plaited skirt. It 
was a soft silk of an old-rose shade, and it was trimmed 
with creamy lace. Maria had left off her mourning. 
Evelyn looked with a little surprise at Maria's blouse. 

"Why, you've got on your pink blouse, sister," she 

Maria colored softly, for no ostensible reason. "Yes," 
she said. 

"You don't generally wear it to school." 

"I thought as long as it was the first day," Maria 
said, in a slightly faltering tone. She bent her head 
until her rose-wreathed hat almost concealed her face. 
The sisters stood in front of the house waiting for their 
car. Evelyn made a sudden little run back into the 

"You hold the car!" she cried. 

"I don't know that they will wait; you must not 
stop," Maria called out. But the car had just stopped 



when Evelyn returned, and she had a little cluster of 
snowberries pinned in the front of her red gown. She 
looked bewitchingly over them at Maria when they 
were seated side by side in the car. 

"I guess I was going to wear flowers as well as some 
other folks, " she whispered with a soft, dark glance at 
her sister from under her long lashes. Maria smiled. 

" You don't need to wear flowers," she said. 

"Why not as well as you?" 

"Oh, you are a flower yourself," Maria said, looking 
fondly at her. 

Indeed, the young girl looked like nothing so much 
as a rose, with her tenderly curved pink cheeks, the 
sweet arch of her lips, and her glowing radiance of 
smiles. Maria looked at her critically, then bade her 
turn that she might fasten a hook on her collar which 
had become unfastened. 

"Now you are all right," she said. 

Evelyn smiled. "Don't you think these snowberries 
are pretty with this red dress?" she asked. 


"I wonder what the new principal will be like," 
Evelyn said, musingly, after riding awhile in silence. 

"I presume he will be very much like other young 
men. The main thing to consider is, if he is a good 
teacher," Maria said. 

"What makes you cross, sister?" Evelyn whispered 

"I am not cross, only I don't want you to be silly." 

"I am not silly. All the girls are wondering, too. I 
am only like other girls. You can't expect me to be 
just like you, Maria. Of course you are older, and you 
don't wonder, and then, too, you knew him when he 
was a boy. Is he light or dark?" 

"Light," Maria replied, looking out of the window. 

"Sometimes light children grow dark as they grow 


older, " said Evelyn. "I hope he hasn't. I like light 
men better than dark, don't you, Maria?" 

" I don't like one more than another," said Maria shortly. 

"Of course I know you don't in one way. Don't be 
so cross," Evelyn said in a hurt way. "But almost 
everybody has an opinion about light and dark men." 

Maria looked out of the window, and Evelyn said no 
more, but she felt a sorrowful surprise at her sister. 
Evelyn was so used to being petted and admired that 
the slightest rebuff, especially a rebuff from Maria, 
made her incredulous. It really seemed to her that 
Maria must be ill to speak so shortly to her. Then she 
remembered poor Professor Lane, and how in all prob- 
ability Maria was thinking about him this morning, and 
that made her irritable, and how she, Evelyn, ought to 
be very patient. Evelyn was in reality very patient 
and very slow to take offence. So she snuggled gently 
up to her sister, until her slender, red-clad shoulder 
touched Maria's, and looked pleasantly around through 
the car, and again wondered privately about the new 

They had a short walk after leaving the car to the 
academy. As they turned into the academy grounds, 
which were quite beautiful with trees and shrubs, a 
young man was mounting the broad flight of granite 
steps which led to the main entrance. Evelyn touched 
Maria agitatedly on the arm. "Oh, Maria," said she. 


"Is that— he?" 

"I think so. I saw only his back, but I should 
think so. I don't see what other young man could be 
going into the building. It was certainly not the 
janitor, nor Mr. Hughes" (Mr. Hughes was the music- 
teacher) replied Maria calmly, although she was pale. 

"Oh, if that was he, I think he is splendid," whis- 
pered Evelyn. 



Maria said nothing as the two proceeded along the 
fine gravel walk between hydrangeas, and inverted 
beech-trees, and symmetrically trimmed firs. 

"He is light," Evelyn said, meditatively. "I am 
glad of that." As she spoke she put her hand to her 
head and adjusted her hair, then her hat. She threw 
back her shoulders. She preened herself, innocently 
and unconsciously, like a little bird. Maria did not 
notice it. She had her own thoughts, and she was 
using all her power of self-control to conceal her agita- 
tion. It seemed to her as she entered the building as 
if her secret was written upon her face, as if everybody 
must read as they ran. But she removed her coat and 
hat, and took her place with the other assistants upon 
the platform in the chapel of the academy where the 
morning exercises were held. She spoke to the other 
teachers, and took her usual seat. Wollaston was not 
yet there. The pupils were flocking into the room, 
which was picturesque with a dome-shaped ceiling, and 
really fine frescoed panels on the walls. Directly op- 
posite the platform was a large oriel-window of stained 
glass, the gift of the founder. Rays of gold and green 
and blue and crimson light filtered through, over the 
assembling school. Maria saw Evelyn with her face 
turned towards the platform eagerly watching. She 
was not looking at Maria, but was evidently expecting 
the advent of the new principal. It did not at that 
time occur to Maria to attribute any serious meaning to 
the girl's attitude. She merely felt a sort of impatience 
with her, concerning her attitude, when she herself 
knew what she knew. 

Suddenly a sort of suppressed stir was evident among 
those of the pupils who were seated. Maria felt a 
breeze from an open door, and knew that Wollaston had 
entered. He spoke first to her, calling her by name, and 
bidding her good-morning, then to the other teachers. 



The others were either residents of Westbridge, or board- 
ed there, and he had evidently been introduced to them 
before. Then he took his seat, and waited quietly for 
the pupils to become seated. It lacked only a few 
minutes of the time for opening the school. It was not 
long before the seats were filled, and Maria heard Wol- 
laston's voice reading a selection from the Bible. Then 
she bent her head, and heard him offering prayer. She 
felt a sort of incredulity now. It seemed to her incon- 
ceivable that the boy whom she had known could be 
actually conducting the opening exercises of a school 
with such imperturbability and self-possession. All at 
once a great pride of possession seized her. She glanced 
covertly at him between her fingers. The secret which 
had been her shame suddenly filled her with the possi- 
bility of pride. Wollaston Lee, standing there, seemed 
to her the very grandest man whom she had ever seen. 
He was undoubtedly handsome, and he had, moreover, 
power. When he had finished his prayer, and had begun 
his short address to the scholars, she glanced at him 
again, and saw what splendid shoulders he had, how 
proudly he held his head, and yet what a boyish ingen- 
uousness went with it all. Maria did not look at Evelyn 
at all. Had she done so, she would have been startled. 
Evelyn was gazing at the new principal with the utmost 
unreserve, the unreserve of awakened passion which does 
not know itself because of innocence and ignorance. 
Evelyn, gazing at the young man, had never been so un- 
conscious of herself, and at the same time she had never 
been so conscious. She felt a life to which she had been 
hitherto a stranger tingling through every vein and nerve 
of her young body, through every emotion of her young 
soul. She gazed with wide-open eyes like a child, the 
rose flush deepened on her cheeks, her parted lips became 
moist and deep crimson, pulses throbbed in her throat. 
She smiled involuntarily, a smile of purest delight and 



admiration. Love twofold had awakened within her 
emotional nature. Love of herself, as she might be seen 
in another's eyes, and love of another. And yet she did 
not know it was love, and she felt no shame, and no 
fright, nothing but rapture. She was in the broad light 
of the present, under the direct rays of a firmament of 
life and love. Another girl, Addie Hemingway, who 
was no older than Evelyn, but shrewd beyond her years, 
with a taint of coarseness, noticed her, and nudged the 
girl at her right. 14 Just look at Evelyn Edgham," she 

The other girl looked. 

"I suppose she thinks she'll catch him, she's so awful 
pretty," whispered Addie maliciously. 

"I don't think she is so very pretty," whispered back 
the other girl, who was pretty herself and disposed to 
assert her own claims to attention. 

"She thinks she is," whispered back Addie. "Just 
see how bold she looks at him. I should think she would 
be ashamed of herself." 

"So should I," nodded the other girl. 

But Evelyn had no more conception of the propriety 
of shame than nature itself. She was pure nature. 
Presently Wollaston himself, who had been making his 
address to his pupils with a vague sense of an upturned 
expanse of fresh young faces of boys and girls, without 
any especial face arresting his attention, saw Evelyn 
with a start which nobody, man or woman, could have 
helped. She was so beautiful that she could no more 
be passed unnoticed than a star. Wollaston made an 
almost imperceptible pause in his discourse, then he 
continued, fixing his eyes upon the oriel -window op- 
posite. He realized himself as surprised and stirred, 
but he was not a young man whom a girl's beauty 
can rouse at once to love. He had, moreover, a strong 
sense of honor and duty. He realized Maria was his 



legal wife. He was, although he had gotten over his 
boyish romance, which had been shocked out of him 
at the time of his absurd marriage, in an attitude 
of soul which was ready for love, and love for his 
wife. He had often said to himself that no other hon- 
orable course was possible for either Maria or him- 
self: that it was decidedly best that they should fall in 
love with each other and make their marriage a reality. 
At the same time, something more than delicacy and 
shyness restrained him from making advances. He was 
convinced that Maria not only disliked but feared him. 
S A great pity for her was in his heart, and also pride, which 
shrank from exposing itself to rebuffs. Yet he did not 
underestimate himself. He considered that he had as 
good a chance as any man of winning her affection and 
overcoming her present attitude towards him. He saw 
no reason why he should not. While he was not con- 
ceited, he knew perfectly well his advantages as to per- 
sonal appearance. He also was conscious of the integrity 
of his purpose as far as she was concerned. He knew 
that, whenever she should be willing to accept him, he 
should make her a good husband, and he recognized his 
readiness and ability to love her should she seem ready 
to welcome his love. He, however, was very proud even 
while conscious of his advantages, and consequently 
easily wounded. He could not forget Maria's look of 
horror when she had recognized him the Saturday before. 
A certain resentment towards her because of it was over 
him in spite of himself. He said to himself that he had 
not deserved that look, that he had done all that mortal 
man could do to shield her from a childish tragedy, for 
which he had not been to blame in any greater degree 
than she. He said to himself that she might at least 
have had confidence in his honor and his generosity. 
However, pity for her and that readiness to do his 
duty — to love her — were uppermost. The quick glance 



which he had given Maria that morning had filled him 
with pleasure. Maria, in her dull-rose blouse, with her 
cluster of chrysanthemums, with her fair, emotional face 
held by sheer force of will in a mould of serenity, with her 
soft yellow coils of hair and her still childish figure, was 
charming. After that one glance at Evelyn, with her 
astonishing beauty, he thought no more about her. 
When his address was finished the usual routine of the 
school began. 

He did not see Maria again all day. She had her own 
class-room, and at noon she and Evelyn ate their 
luncheon together there. Evelyn did not say a word 
about the new principal. She was very quiet. She did 
not eat as usual. 

' * Don't you feel well, dear?" asked Maria. 

" Yes, sister," replied Evelyn. Then suddenly her lips 
quivered and a tear rolled down the lovely curve of her 

"Why, Evelyn, precious, what is the matter?" asked 

"Nothing," muttered Evelyn. Then suddenly, to 
her sister's utter astonishment, the young girl sprang 
up and ran out of the room. 

Maria was sure that she heard a muffled sob. She 
thought for a second of following her, then she had 
some work to do before the afternoon session, and she 
also had a respect for others' desires for secrecy, pos- 
sibly because of her long carrying about of her own 
secret. She sat at her table with her forehead frown- 
ing uneasily, and wrote, and did not move to follow 

Evelyn, when she rushed out of the class-room, took 
instinctively her way towards a little but dense grove 
in the rear of the academy. It was a charming little 
grove of firs and maples, and there were a number of 
benches under the trees for the convenience of the 



pupils. It was rather singular that there was nobody 
there. Usually during the noon -hour many ate their 
luncheons under the shadow of the trees. However, 
the wind had changed, and it was cool. Then, too, the 
reunions among the old pupils were probably going on 
to better advantage in the academy, and many had 
their luncheons at a near-by restaurant. However it 
happened, Evelyn, running with the tears in her eyes, 
her heart torn with strange, new emotion which as yet 
she could not determine the nature of, whether it was 
pain or joy, found the grove quite deserted. The cold 
sunlight came through the golden maple boughs and 
lay in patches on the undergrowth of drying golden-rod 
and asters. Under the firs and pines it was gloomy, 
and a premonition of winter was in the air. Evelyn 
sat down on a bench under a pine-tree, and began to 
weep quite unrestrainedly. She did not know why. 
She heard the song of the pine over her head, and it 
seemed to increase her apparently inconsequent grief. 
In reality she wept the tears of the world, the same 
which a new-born child sheds. Her sorrow was the 
mysterious sorrow of existence itself. She wept because 
of the world, and her life in it, and her going out of it, 
because of its sorrow, which is sweetened with joy, and 
its joy embittered with sorrow. But she did not know 
why she wept. Evelyn was cast on very primitive 
moulds, and she had been very unrestrained, first by 
the indifference of her mother, then by the love of her 
father and sister and aunt. It was enough for Evelyn 
that she wished to weep that she wept. No other rea- 
son seemed in the least necessary to her. In front of 
where she sat was a large patch of sunlight overspread- 
ing a low growth of fuzzy weeds, which shone like 
silver, and a bent thicket of dry asters which were still 
blue although withered. 

All at once Evelyn became aware that this patch of 


sunlight was darkened, and she looked up in a sweet 
confusion. Her big, dark eyes were not in the least 
reddened by her tears; they only glittered with them. 
Her lips, slightly swollen, only made her lovelier. 

Directly before her stood the new principal, and he 
was gazing down at her with a sort of consternation, 
pity, and embarrassment. Wollaston was in reality 
wishing himself anywhere else. A woman's tears 
aroused in him pity and irritation. He wished to pass 
on, but it seemed too impossible to do so and leave 
this lovely young creature in such distress without a 
word of inquiry. He therefore paused, and his slightly 
cold, blue eyes met Evelyn's brilliant, tearful ones with 

"Is there anything I can do for you?" he asked. 
"Shall I call any one? Are you ill ? * * 

Evelyn felt hurt and disturbed by his look and tone. 
New tears welled up in her eyes. She shook her head 
with a slight pout. Wollaston passed on. Evelyn 
raised her head and gazed after him with an indescrib- 
able motion, the motion of a timid, wild thing of the 
woods, which pursues, but whose true instinct is to be 
pursued. Suddenly she rose, and ran after him, and 
was by his side. 

"I am ashamed you should have seen — M she said, 
brokenly. "I was crying for nothing. " 

Wollaston looked down at her and smiled. She also 
was smiling through her tears. "Young ladies should 
not cry for nothing," he said, with a whimsical, school- 
master manner. 

"It seems to me that nothing is the most terrible 
thing in the whole world to cry for," replied Evelyn, 
with unconscious wisdom, but she still smiled. Again 
her eyes met the young man's, and her innocently ad- 
miring gaze was full upon his, and that happened which 
was inevitable, one of the chain of sequences of life it- 



self. His own eyes responded ardently, and the girl's 
eyes fell before the man's. At the same time there was 
no ulterior significance in the man's look, which was 
merely in evidence of a passing emotion to which he 
was involuntarily subject. He had not the slightest 
thought of any love, which his look seemed to express 
for this little beauty of a girl, whose name he did not 
even know. But he slackened his pace, and Evelyn 
walked timidly beside him over the golden net-work of 
sunlight in the path. Evelyn spoke first. 

"You came from Edgham, Mr. Lee," she said. 

Wollaston looked at her. "Yes. Do you know any- 
body there?" 

Evelyn laughed. "I came from there myself," she 
said, "and so did my sister, Maria. Maria is one of 
the teachers, you know." 

Evelyn wondered why Mr. Lee's face changed, not 
so much color but expression. 

"Oh, you are Miss Edgham's sister?" he exclaimed. 

"Yes. I am her sister — her half-sister." 

"Let me see; you are in the senior class." 

"Yes," replied Evelyn. Then she added, "Did you 
remember my sister?" 

"Oh yes," replied Wollaston. "We used to go to 
school together." 

"She cannot have altered," said Evelyn. "She al- 
ways looks just the same to me, anyway." 

"She does to me," said Lee, and there was an in- 
flection in his voice which caused Evelyn to give a 
startled glance at him. But he continued, quite nat- 
urally, "Your sister looks just as I remember her, only, 
of course, a little taller and more dignified." 

"Maria is dignified," said Evelyn, "but of course she 
has taught school a long time, and a school-teacher has 
to be dignified." 

"Are you intending to teach school?" asked Lee, and 


even as he asked the question he felt amused. The 
idea of this flower-like thing teaching school, or teach- 
ing anything, was absurd. She was one of the pupils of 
life, not one of the expounders. 

"No, I think not," said Evelyn. Then she said, "I 
have never thought about it." Then an incompre- 
hensible little blush flamed upon her cheeks. Evelyn 
was thinking that she should be married instead of do- 
ing anything else, but that the man did not consider. 
He was singularly unversed in feminine nature. 

A bell rang from the academy, and Evelyn turned 
about with reluctance. "There is the bell," said she. 
She was secretly proud although somewhat abashed at 
being seen walking back to the academy with the new 
principal. Addie Hemingway was looking out of a 
window, and she said to the other girl, the same whom 
she had addressed in the chapel: 

"See, Evelyn Edgham has got him in tow already." 

That night, when Maria and Evelyn arrived home, 
Aunt Maria asked Evelyn how she liked the new prin- 
cipal. "Oh, he's perfectly splendid," replied Evelyn. 
Then she blushed vividly. Aunt Maria noticed it and 
gave a swift glance at Maria, but Maria did not notice it 
at all. She was so wrapped in her own dreams that she 
was abstracted. After she went to bed that night she 
lay awake a long time dreaming, just as she had done 
when she had been a little girl. Her youth seemed to 
rush back upon her like a back-flood. She caught her- 
self dreaming of love-scenes in that same little wood 
where Wollaston and Evelyn had walked that day. She 
never thought of Evelyn and the possibility of her think- 
ing of Wollaston. But Evelyn, in her little, white, maiden 
bed, was awake and dreaming too. Outside the wind 
was blowing and the leaves dropping and the eternal 
stars shining overhead. It seemed as if so much maiden- 
dreaming in the house should make it sound with song, 



but it was silent and dark to the night. Only the reflec- 
tion of the street-lamp made it evident at all to occa- 
sional passers. It is well that the consciousness of 
human beings is deaf to such emotions, or all individual 
dreams would cease because of the multiple din. 


Evelyn, as the weeks went on, did not talk as much 
as she had been accustomed to do. She did not pour 
her confidences into her sister's ears. She never spoke 
of the new principal. She studied assiduously, and stood 
exceedingly well in all her classes. She had never taken 
so much pains with her pretty costumes. When her 
mother sent her a Christmas present of a Paris gown, 
she danced with delight. There was to be a Christmas- 
tree in the academy chapel, and she planned to wear it. 
Although it was a Paris gown it was simple enough, a 
pretty, girlish frock of soft white cloth, with touches of 
red. "I can wear holly in my hair, and it will be per- 
fectly lovely, " Evelyn said. But she came down with 
such a severe cold and sore throat at the very beginning 
of the holidays that going to Westbridge was out of the 
question. Evelyn lamented over the necessity of her 
staying at home like a child. She even cried. 

" I wouldn't be such a baby," said Aunt Maria. At 
times Aunt Maria could not quite forgive Evelyn for 
being Ida Slome's child, especially when she showed any 
weakness. She looked severely now at poor Evelyn, in 
her red house-wrapper, weeping in her damp little hand- 
kerchief. " I should think you were about ten," she said. 

Evelyn wiped her eyes and sniffed. Her throat was 
very sore, and her cold was also in her head. Her pretty 
lips were disfigured with fever-sores. Her eyes were in- 

"You wouldn't want to go looking the way you do, 
anyhow," said Aunt Maria, pitilessly. 



After Aunt Maria went out of the room, Maria, who 
was putting some finishing-touches to the gown which 
she herself was to wear to the Christmas-tree, went over 
to her sister and knelt down beside her. " Poor darling," 
she said. " Don't you want me to stay at home with 

Evelyn pushed her away gently, with a fresh outburst 
of tears. " No," she said. " Don't come so close, Maria, 
or you will catch it. Everybody says it is contagious. 
No, I wouldn't have you stay at home for anything. I 
am not a pig, if I am disappointed. But Aunt Maria 
need not be so cross. " 

"Aunt Maria does not mean to be cross, sweetheart," 
said Maria, stroking her sister's fluffy, dark head. "Are 
you sure that you do not want me to stay home with 
you, dear?" 

"Perfectly sure," replied Evelyn. "I want you to 
go so you can tell me about it." 

Evelyn had not the slightest idea of jealousy of 
Maria. While she admired her, it really never occurred 
to her, so naive she was in her admiration of herself, 
that anybody could think her more attractive than she 
was and fall in love with her, to her neglect. She had 
not the least conception of what this Christmas-tree 
meant to her older sister : the opportunity of seeing Wol- 
laston Lee, of talking with him, of perhaps some atten- 
tion on his part. Maria was to return to Amity on the 
last trolley from Westbridge. It was quite a walk from 
the academy. She dreamed of Wollaston's escorting her 
to the trolley-line. She dressed herself with unusual 
care when the day came. She had a long, trailing gown 
of a pale-blue cloth and a blue knot for her yellow hair. 
She also had quite a pretentious blue evening cloak. 
Christmas afternoon a long box full of pale-yellow roses 
arrived. There was a card enclosed which Maria caught 
up quickly and concealed without any one seeing her. 
28 423 


Wollaston had sent her the roses. Her heart beat so 
hard and fast that it seemed the others must hear it. 
She bent over the roses. "How perfectly lovely!" she 

Aunt Maria took up the box and lifted the flowers out 
carefully. " There isn't any card," she said. " I wonder 
who sent them?" All at once a surmise seized her that 
Professor Lane, who was said to be regaining his health 
in Colorado, had sent an order to the Westbridge florist 
for these flowers. Simultaneously the thought came to 
Evelyn, but Eunice, who was in the room, looked be- 
wildered. When Maria carried the roses out to put them 
in water, she turned to her sister-in-law. ' 1 Who on earth 
do you suppose sent them?" she whispered. 

Aunt Maria looked at her, and formed Professor Lane's 
name noiselessly with her lips, giving her at the same 
time a knowing nod. Eunice looked at Evelyn, who also 
nodded, although with a somewhat disturbed expression. 
She still did not feel quite reconciled to the idea of her 
sister's loving Professor Lane. 

"I didn't know," said Eunice. 

"Nobody knows; but we sort of surmise," said Aunt 

"Why, he's old enough to be her father," Eunice said. 

"What of that, if he only gets cured of his consump- 
tion?" said Aunt Maria. She herself felt disgusted, but 
she had a pleasure in concealing her disgust from her 
sister-in-law. "Lots of girls would jump at him," said 

" I wouldn't have when I was a girl," Eunice remarked, 
in a mildly reminiscent manner. 

" You don't know what you would have done if you 
hadn't got my brother," said Aunt Maria. 

"I would never have married anybody," Eunice re- 
plied, with a fervent, faithful look. As she spoke, she 
seemed to see Henry Stillman as he had been, when a 



young man and courting her, and she felt as if a king 
had passed her field of memory to the exclusion of all 

"Maybe you wouldn't have," said her sister-in-law, 
"but nowadays girls have to take what they can get. 
Men ain't so anxious to marry. When a man had to 
have all his shirts and dickeys made he was helpless, to 
say nothing of his pants, but nowadays he can get 
everything ready-made, and it doesn't make so much 
difference to him whether he gets married or not. He 
can have a good deal more for himself, if he's an old 

"Maybe you are right," said Eunice, "but I know 
when I was a girl Maria's age I wouldn't have let an old 
man like Professor Lane, with the consumption, too, 
tie my shoes. Do you suppose he really sent her the 

"Who else could have sent them?" 

"They must have cost an awful sight of money," said 
Eunice, in an awed tone. Then she stopped, for Maria 
re-entered the room with the roses in a tall vase. She 
wore some of them pinned to the shoulder of her blue 
gown that evening. She knew who had sent them, and 
it seemed to her that she did not overestimate the sig- 
nificance of the sending. When she started for West- 
bridge that evening she was radiant. She had the roses 
carefully pinned in tissue-paper to protect them from 
the cold; her long, blue cloak swept about her in grace- 
ful folds, she wore a blue hat with a long, blue feather. 

"Why didn't you wear a head tie?" asked Aunt 
Maria. "Ain't you afraid you will spoil that hat if 
you take it off? The feather will get all mussy." 

"I shall put it in a safe place," replied Maria, smiling. 
She blushed as she spoke. She knew perfectly well her- 
self why she wore that hat, because she thought Wol- 
laston might escort her to the trolley, and she wished 



to appear at her best in his eyes. Maria no longer dis- 
guised from herself the fact that she loved this man 
who was her husband and not her husband. She 
knew that bhe was entirely ready to respond to his ad- 
vances, should he make any, that she would be happier 
than she had ever been in her whole life if the secret 
which had been the horror of her life should be re- 
vealed. She wondered if it would not be better to 
have another wedding. That night she had not much 
doubt of Wollaston's love for her. When she entered 
the car, and saw besides herself several young girls 
prinked in their best, who were also going to the Christ- 
mas-tree, she felt a sort of amused pride, that all their 
prinking and preening was in vain. She assumed that 
all of them had dressed to attract Wollaston. She 
could not think of any other man whom any girl could 
wish to attract. She sat radiant with her long, blue 
feather sweeping the soft, yellow puff of her hair. She 
gave an affect of smiling at everybody, at all creation. 
She really felt for the first time that she could remem- 
ber a sense of perfect acquiescence with the universal 
scheme of things, therefore she felt perfect content and 
happiness. She thought how wonderful it was that 
poor Gladys Mann, lying in her unmarked grave this 
Christmas-time, should have been the means, all un- 
wittingly, of bringing such bliss to herself. She thought 
how wonderful that Evelyn's loss should have been the 
first link in such a sequence. She thought of Evelyn 
with a sort of gratitude, as if she had done something 
incalculable for her. She also thought of her as always 
with the utmost love and pride and tenderness. She 
reflected with pleasure on the gift which she herself had 
hung on the tree for Evelyn, and how pleased the child 
would be. It was a tiny gold brooch with a pearl in 
the centre. Evelyn was very fond of ornaments. 
Maria did not once imagine of the possibility that Evelyn 



could have any dreams herself with regard to Wollaston. 
She did not in reality think of Evelyn as old enough to 
have any dreams at all which need be considered seri- 
ously, and least of all about Wollaston Lee. She nod- 
ded to a young man, younger than herself, who was in 
Evelyn's class at the academy, who sat across the aisle, 
and he returned the nod eagerly. He was well grown, 
and handsome, and looked as old as Maria herself. 
Presently as the car began to fill up, he crossed the 
aisle, and asked if he might sit beside her. Maria made 
room at once. She smiled at the young fellow with 
her smile which belonged in reality to another man, 
and he took it for himself. Perhaps nothing on earth 
is so misappropriated as smiles and tears. The seat 
was quite narrow. It was necessary to sit rather close, 
in any event, but presently Maria felt the boy's broad 
shoulder press unmistakably against hers. She shrank 
away with an imperceptible motion. She did not feel 
so much angry as amused at the thought that this great 
boy should be making love to her, when all her heart 
was with some one else, when she could not even give 
him a pleasant look which belonged wholly to him. 
Maria leaned against the window, and gazed out at the 
flying shadows. "I am glad it is so pleasant," she said 
in a perfectly unconcerned voice. 

"Yes, so am I," the boy replied, but his voice shook 
with emotion. Maria thought again how ridiculous it 
was. Then suddenly she reflected that this might not 
be on her account but Evelyn's. She thought that the 
boy might be trying to ingratiate himself with her on 
her sister's account. She felt at once indignation and 
a sense of pity. She was su^e that Evelyn had never 
thought of him. She glanced at the boy's handsome, 
manly face, which, although manly, wore still an ex- 
pression of ingenuousness like a child's. She reflected 
that if Evelyn were to marry when she were older, that 



perhaps this was a good husband for her. The boy 
came of one of the best families in Amity. She turned 
towards him smiling. 

* ' Evelyn was very much disappointed that she could 
not come to-night," she said. 

The boy brightened visibly at her tone. 

"She has a very severe cold," Maria added. 

"I am sorry," said the boy. Then he said in a low 
tone whose boldness and ardor were unmistakable, that 
it did not make any difference to him who was there as 
long as she was. Maria could scarcely believe her ears. 
She gave the boy a keen, incredulous glance, but he 
was not daunted. "I mean it," he said. 

"Nonsense," said Maria. She looked out of the win- 
dow again. She told herself that it was annoying but 
too idiotic to concern herself with. She made up her 
mind that when they changed trolleys she would try to 
find a seat with some one else. But when they changed 
she found the boy again beside her. She was quite 
angry then, and made no effort to disguise it. She sat 
quite still, gazing out of the window, shrugged against 
it as closely as she was able to sit, and said nothing. 
However, her face resumed its happy smile when she 
thought again of Wollaston, and the boy thought the 
smile meant for him. He leaned over her tenderly. 

"I wish I could have a picture of you as you look to- 
night," he said. 

"Well, I am afraid that you will have to do without 
it," Maria said shortly. Still the boy remained in- 
sensible to rebuff. 

"What are you carrying, Miss Edgham?" he asked, 
looking at her roses enveloped in tissue paper. 

"Some roses which a friend sent me," Maria replied. 

Then the boy colored and paled a little. He jumped 
at once to the conclusion that the friend was a man. 
" I suppose you are going to wear them," he said pitifully. 



"Yes, I am," replied Maria. 

The boy in his turn sat as far away as possible in his 
corner of the seat, and gazed ahead with a gloomy air. 

When they reached the academy grounds he quite 
deserted Maria, who walked to the chapel with one of 
the other teachers, who entered at the same time. She 
was a young lady who lived in Westbridge. Maria 
caught the pale glimmer of an evening gown under her 
long, red cloak trimmed with white fur, and reflected 
that possibly she also had adorned herself especially for 
Wollaston's benefit, and again she felt that unworthy 
sense of pride and amusement. The girl herself echoed 
her thoughts, for she said soon after Maria had greeted 

" 1 saw Mr. Lee and his mother starting. " 
"Did you?" returned Maria. 

"Don't you think he is very handsome?" asked the 
girl in a sentimental tone which irritated. 

"No," said Maria sharply, although she lied. "I 
don't think he is handsome at all. He looks intelligent 
and sensible, but as for handsome — " 

"Oh, don't you think so?" cried the other. Then 
she caught herself short, for Wollaston Lee, with his 
mother on his arm, came up. They said good-evening, 
and all four passed in. 

The platform of the chapel was occupied by a great 
Christmas-tree. The chapel itself was trimmed with 
evergreens and holly. The moment Maria entered, 
after she had removed her hat in a room which was 
utilized as a dressing-room, and pinned her roses on her 
shoulder, she became sensible of a peculiar intoxication 
as of some new happiness and festivity, of a cup of joy 
which she had hitherto not tasted. The spicy odor of 
the evergreens, even the odor of oyster -stew from a 
room beyond where supper was to be served, that, and 
cake, and the sweetness of her own roses, raised her to 



a sense of elation which she had never before had. She 
sat with the other teachers well towards the front. 
Wollaston was with his mother on the right. Maria 
saw with a feeling of relief the people with whom the 
Lees had formerly boarded presently enter and sit with 
them. She thought that Wollaston would be free to 
walk to the trolley with her if he so wished. She felt 
surer and surer that he did so wish. Once she caught 
him looking at her, and when she answered his smile 
she felt her own lips stiff, and realized how her heart 
pounded against her side. She experienced something 
like a great pain which w r as still a great joy. Suddenly 
everything seemed unreal to her. When the presents 
were distributed, it was still so unreal that she did not 
feel as pleased as she would have done with the number 
for poor little Evelyn at home. She hardly knew what 
she received herself. They were the usual useless and 
undesirable tokens from her class, and others more de- 
sirable from the other lady teachers. Wollaston Lee's 
name was often called. Again Maria experienced that 
unworthy sensation of malicious glee that all this was 
lavished upon him when he was in reality hers and be- 
yond the reach of any of these smiling girls with eyes 
of covert wistfulness upon the handsome young prin- 

After the festivities were over, Maria adjusted her 
hat in the dressing-room and fastened her long, blue 
cloak. She wrapped her roses again in the tissue- 
paper. They were very precious to her. The teacher 
whom she had met on entering the academy was fasten- 
ing her cloak, and she gazed at Maria with a sort of 
envious admiration. 

" You look like a princess, all in blue, Miss Edgham, ,> 
said she. Her words were sweet, but her voice rang 

" Thank you," said Maria, and went out swiftly. 


She feared lest the other teacher attach herself to her, 
and the other teacher lived on the road towards the 
trolley. When Maria went out of the academy, that 
which she had almost feared to hope for happened. 
Wollaston stepped beside her, and she heard him ask if 
he might walk with her to the trolley. 
Maria took his arm. 

"Mother is with the Gleasons," said Wollaston. His 
voice trembled. 

Just then the boy who had sat with Maria on the car 
coming over walked with a defiant stride to her other 

" Good -evening, Mr. Lee," he said, lifting his hat. 
"Good-evening, Miss Edgham," as if that was the first 
time that evening he had seen her. Then he walked 
on with her and Wollaston, and nothing was to be done 
but accept the situation. The young fellow was fairly 
belligerent with jealous rage. He had lost his young 
head over his teacher, and was doing something for 
which he would scorn himself later on. 

Wollaston pressed Maria's hand closely under his 
arm, and she felt her very soul thrill, but they all 
talked of the tree and the festivities of the evening, 
with an apparent disregard of the terrible undercurrent 
of human emotions which had them all in its grasp. 
Wollaston carried Maria's presents and Evelyn's. When 
they reached the trolley-line, and he gave them to her, 
she managed to whisper a thank you for his beautiful 
roses, and he pressed her hand and said good -night. 
The boy asked with a mixture of humility and defiance 
if he could not can*}' her parcels (he himself had noth- 
ing but three neckties and a great silk muffler, which 
he did not value highly, as he was well stocked already, 
and he had thrust them into his pockets). "No, thank 
you," said Maria, " I prefer to carry them myself." She 
was curt, but she was so lit up with rapture that she 



could not help smiling at him as she spoke, and he 
again sat in the same car -seat. She hardly spoke a 
word all the way to Amity, but he walked to her door 
with her, alighting from the car at the same time she 
did, although he lived half a mile farther on. 

4 'You will have to walk a half mile/' Maria observed, 
when he handed her off and let the car go on. 

"I like to walk," the boy said, fervently. 

Maria had her latch-key. She opened the door hur- 
riedly and ran in. She was half afraid that this irre- 
pressible young man might offer to kiss her. " Good- 
night/ ' she said, and almost slammed the door in his 

Aunt Maria had left a light burning low on the hall 
table. Maria took it and went up-stairs. She gathered 
up the skirt of her gown into a bag to hold the presents, 
hers and Evelyn's. 

When she entered her own room and set the lamp on 
the dresser, she was aware of a little, nestling movement 
in the bed, and Evelyn's dark head and lovely face 
raised itself from the pillow. 

"I came in here," said Evelyn, " because I wanted to 
see you after you came home. Do you mind?" 

"No, darling, of course I don't mind," replied Maria. 

She displayed Evelyn's presents, and the girl ex- 
amined them eagerly. Maria thought she seemed dis- 
appointed even with her own gift of the brooch which 
she had expected would so delight her. 

"Is that all?" Evelyn said. 

"All?" laughed Maria. "Why, you little, greedy 
thing, what do you expect?" 

To her astonishment Evelyn began suddenly to cry. 
She sobbed as if her heart would break, and would not 
tell her sister why she was so grieved. Finally, Maria 
having undressed and got into bed, her sister clung 
closely to her, still sobbing. 




" Evelyn, darling, what is it?" whispered Maria. 

"You'll laugh at me." 

"No, I won't, honest, precious." 


"Yes, honest, dear." 

"Were those all the presents I had?" 

"Yes ? of course, I brought you all you had, dear." 

Evelyn murmured something inarticulate against 
Maria's breast. 

"What is it, dear, sister didn't hear?" 

"I hung a book on the tree for him," choked Evelyn, 
"and I thought maybe — I thought — " 

"Thought what?" 

"I thought maybe he would — " 

"Who would?" 

"I thought maybe Mr. Lee would give me some- 
thing," sobbed Evelyn. 
Maria lay still. 

Evelyn nestled closer. "Oh," she whispered, "I 
love him so! I can't help it. I can't. I love him so, 


There was a second's hush after Evelyn had said 
that. It seemed to Maria that her heart stood still. 
A sort of incredulity, as of the monstrous and the super- 
human seized her. She felt as one who had survived a 
railroad accident might feel looking down upon his own 
dismembered body in which life still quivered. She 
could not seem to actually sense what Evelyn had said, 
although the words still rang in her ears. Presently, 
Evelyn spoke again in her smothered, weeping voice. 
"Do you think I am so very dreadful, so — immodest, 
to care so much about a man who has never said he 
cared about me?" 

"He has never said anything?" asked Maria, and her 
voice sounded strange in her own ears. 

"No, never one word that I could make anything of, 
but he has looked at me, he has, honest, sister." Evelyn 
burst into fresh sobs. 

Then Maria roused herself. She patted the little, 
soft, dark head. 

"Why, Evelyn, precious," she said, "you are imagin- 
ing all this. You can't care so much about a man 
whom you have seen so little. You have let your mind 
dwell on it, and you imagine it. You don't care. 
You can't, really. You wait, and by-and-by you will 
find out that you care a good deal more for somebody 

But then Evelyn raised herself and looked down at 
her sister in the dark, and there was a ring in her voice 
which Maria had never before heard. "Not care," she 



said — "not care! I will stand everything but that. 
Maria, don't you dare tell me I don't care!" 

"But you don't know him at all, dear." 

"I know him better than anybody else in the whole 
world," said Evelyn, still in the same strained voice. 
"The very minute I saw him I loved him, and then it 
seemed as if a great bright light made him plain to me. 
I do love him, Maria. Don't you ever dare say I don't. 
That is the only thing that makes me feel that I am 
not ashamed to live, the knowing that I do love him. 
I should be dreadful if I didn't love him — really love 
him, I mean, with the love that lasts. Do you sup- 
pose that if I only felt about him as some of the other 
girls do, that I would have told you? I do love him!" 

"What makes you so sure?" 

"What makes me so sure? Why, everything. I 
know there is not another man in the whole world for 
me that can possibly equal him, and then — I feel as if 
my whole life were full of him. I can't seem to re- 
member much before he came. When I look back, it is 
like looking into the dark, and I can't imagine the 
world being at all without him." 

"Would you be willing to be very poor, to go with- 
out pretty things if you — married him, to live in a 
house like the Ramsey's on the other side of the river, 
not to have enough to eat and drink and wear?" 

"I would have enough to eat and drink and wear. I 
would have as much as a queen if I had him," cried 
Evelyn. "What do you think I care about pretty 
things, or even food and life itself, when it comes to 
anything like this ? Live in a house like the Ramsey's! 
I would live in a cave. I would live on the street, and 
I should never know it was not a palace. Maria, you 
do know that I love him, don't you?" 

"Yes, I know that you think you do." 

"No, say I do." 



" Yes, I know you do," Maria said. 

Then Evelyn lay down again, and wept quietly. 

"Yes, I love him," she moaned, "but he does not love 
me. You don't think he does, do you? I know you 

Maria said nothing. She was sure that he did not. 

11 No, he does not. I see you know it," Evelyn sobbed, 
"and all I cared about going to the Christmas-tree and 
wearing my new gown was on account of him, and I 
sent a beautiful book. I thought I could do that. 
All the girls in the senior class gave him something, 
and I have been saving up every cent, and he never 
gave me anything, not even a box of candy or flowers. 
Do you think he gave any of the other girls anything, 

"I don't think so." 

U I can't help hoping he did not. And I don't be- 
lieve it is so very wicked, because I know that none of 
the other girls can possibly love him as much as I do. 
But, Maria—" 


'"I do love him enough not to complain if he really 
loved some other girl, and she was good, and would 
make him happy. I would go down on my knees to 
her to love him. I would, Maria, honest." Evelyn 
was almost hysterical. Maria soothed her, and evaded 
as well as she was able her repeated little, piteous ques- 
tions as to whether she thought Mr. Lee could ever care 
for her. "I know I am pretty," Evelyn said naively. 
u 1 really think I must be prettier than any other girl 
in school. I have heard so, and I really think so my- 
self, but being pretty means so little when it comes to 
anything like this with a man like him. He might love 
Addie Hemingway instead of me, so far as looks were 
concerned, but I don't think Addie would make him 
very happy — do you, Maria?" 



4 'No, dear. I am quite sure he will never think of 
her. Now try and be quiet and go to sleep." 

44 1 cannot go to sleep, " moaned Evelyn, but it was 
not very long before she was drawing long, even breaths. 
Her youth had asserted itself. Then, too, she had got 

certain comfort from this baring of her soul before 
the soothing love of her sister. 

As soon as Maria became sure that Evelyn was 
soundly asleep she gently unwound the slender, clinging 
arms and got out of bed, and stole noiselessly into 
Evelyn's own room, which adjoined hers. She did not 
get into bed, but took a silk comfortable off, and wrapped 
it around her, then sat down in a low chair beside the 
window. It seemed to her that if she could not have a 
little while to think by herself that she should go mad. 
The utterly inconceivable to her had happened, and 
the utterly inconceivable fairly dazzles the brain when 
it comes to pass. Maria felt as if she were outside all 
hitherto known tracks of life, almost as if she were in 
the fourth dimension. The possibility that her own sister 
might fall in love with the man whom she had married 
had never entered her mind before. She had checked 
Evelyn's wonder concerning him, bat she had thought 
no more of it than of the usual .oolish exuberance of 
a young girl. Now she believed that her sister really 
loved Wollaston. She recalled the fears which she had 
had with regard to her strenuous nature. She did not 
believe it to be a passing fancy of an ordinary young 
girl. She recalled word for word what Evelyn had 
said, and she believed. Maria sat awhile gazing out of 
the window at the starlit sky in a sort of blank of 
realization, of adjustment. She could not at first 
formulate any plan of action. She could only, as it 
were, state the problem. She gazed up at the northern 
constellations, at the mysterious polar star, and it 
seemed to steady her mind and give it power to deal 



with her petty problem of life by its far-away and ever- 
lasting guiding light. The window was partly open, 
and the same pungent odor of death and life in one 
which had endured all day came in her nostrils. She 
seemed to sense heaven and earth and herself as an 
atom, but an atom racked with infinite pain between 
the two. 

" There is the great polar star," she said to herself, 
' 'there are all the suns and stars, here is the earth, and 
here am I, Maria Edgham, who am on the earth, but 
must some day give up my mortal life and become a 
part of it, and part of the material universe and per- 
haps also of the spiritual. I am as nothing, and yet 
this pain in my heart, this love in my heart, makes me 
shine with my own fire as much as the star. I could 
not be unless the earth existed, but it is of such as my- 
self that the earth is made up, and without such as 
myself it could not shine in its place in the heavens." 

Maria began to attach a certain importance to her 
individual existence even while she realized the petti- 
ness of it, comparatively speaking. She was an in- 
finitesimal part, but the whole could not be without 
that part. Suddenly the religious instruction which 
she had drank in with her mother's milk took posses- 
sion of her, but she had a breadth of outlook which 
would have terrified her mother. Maria said to herself 
that she believed in God, but that His need of her was 
as much as her need of Him. She said to herself that 
without her tiny faith in Him, her tiny speck of love 
for Him, He would lack something of Himself. Then 
all at once, in a perfect flood of rapture, something 
which she had never before known came into her heart : 
the consciousness of the love of God for herself, of the 
need of God for herself, poor little Maria Edgham, 
whose ways of life had been so untoward and so ab- 
surd that she almost seemed to herself something to be 



laughed at rather than pitied, much less loved. But all 
at once the knowledge of the love of God was over her. 
She gazed up again at the great polar star overlooking 
with its eternal light the mysteries of the north, and 
for the first time in her whole life the primitive instinct 
of worship asserted itself within her. Maria rose, and 
fell on her knees, and continued to gaze up at the star 
which seemed to her like an eye of God Himself, and 
love seemed to pervade her whole being. She thought 
now almost lightly of Wollaston Lee. What was any 
earthly love to love like this, which took hold of the 
beginning and end of things, of the eternal? A resolu- 
tion which this sense of love seemed to inspire came 
over her. It was a resolution almost grotesque, but it 
was sacred because her heart of hearts was in it, and 
she made it because of this love of God for her and her 
new sense of worship for something beyond the earth 
and all earthly affections which had taken possession of 
her. She rose, undressed herself, and went to bed. 
She did not say any prayer as usual. She seemed an 
incarnate prayer which made formulas unnecessary. 
Why was it essential to say anything when she was ? 
At last she fell asleep, and did not wake until the 
dawn light was in the room. She did not wake as 
usual to a reunion with herself, but to a reunion with 
another self. She did not feel altogether happy. The 
resolution of the night before remained, but the ecstasy 
had vanished. She was not yet an angel, only a poor, 
human, girl with the longings of her kind, which would 
not be entirely stifled as long as her human heart beat. 
But she did what she had planned. Maria had an un- 
usually high forehead. It might have given evidence 
of intellect, of goodness, but it was not beautiful. She 
had always fluffed her blond hair over it, concealing it 
with pretty waves. This morning she brushed all her 
hair as tightly back as possible, and made a hard twist 
29 439 


at an ugly angle at the back of her head. By doing 
this she did not actually destroy her beauty, for her 
regular features and delicate tints remained, but no- 
body looking at her would have called her even pretty. 
Her delicate features became pronounced and hardened, 
her nose seemed sharpened and elongated, her lips 
thinner. This display of her forehead hardened and 
made bold all her face and made her look years older 
than she was. Maria looked at herself in the glass with 
a sort of horror. She had always been fond of herself 
in the glass. She had loved that double of herself 
which had come and gone at her bidding, but now it 
was different. She was actually afraid of the stern, 
thin visage which confronted her, which was herself, 
yet not herself. When she was fully dressed it was 
worse still. She put on a gray gown which had never been 
becoming. It was not properly fitted. It was short- 
waisted, and gave her figure a short, chunky appearance. 
This chunky aspect, with her sharp face and strained 
back hair, made her seem fairly hideous to herself. But 
she remained firm. Her firmness, in reality, w T as one 
cause of the tightening and thinning of her lips. She 
hesitated when about to go down-stairs. She had not 
heard Evelyn go down. She wondered whether she 
had better wait until she went, or go into her room. 
She finally decided upon the latter course. Evelyn was 
standing in front of her dresser brushing her hair. 
When Maria entered she threw with a quick motion 
the whole curly, fluffy mass over her face, which glowed 
through it with an intensity of shame. Evelyn, when 
she awoke that morning, felt as if she had revealed 
some nakedness of her very soul. The girl was fairly 
ill. She could not believe that she had said what she 
remembered herself to have said. 

"Good-morning, dear/' §aid Maria. 

Evelyn did not notice her changed appearance at all. 


She continued to brush away at the mist of hair over 
her face. "Oh, sister!" she murmured. 

"Never mind, precious, we won't say anything more 
about it," said Maria, and her voice had maternal inflec- 

"I ought not," stammered Evelyn, but Maria inter- 
rupted her. 

" I have forgotten all about it, dear," she said. " Now 
you had better hurry or you will be late." 

"When I woke up this morning and remembered, I 
felt as if I should die," Evelyn said, in a choked voice. 

"Nonsense," said Maria. "You won't die, and it 
will all come out right. Don't worry anything about 
it or think anything more about it. Why don't you 
wear your red dress to school to-day ? It is pleasant." 

"Well, perhaps I had better," Evelyn said. She 
threw back her hair then, but still she did not look at 

She arranged her hair and removed her little dressing- 
sack before she looked at Maria, who had seated her- 
self in a rocking-chair beside the window. Aunt Maria 
always insisted upon getting breakfast without any as- 
sistance. The odor of coffee and baking muffins stole 
into the room. Evelyn got her red dress from the 
closet and put it on, still avoiding Maria's eyes. But 
at last she turned towards her. 

"I am all ready to go down," she said, in a weak 
little voice; then she gave a great start, and stared at 

Maria bore the stare calmly, and rose. 
"All right, dear," she replied. 

But Evelyn continued standing before her, staring 
incredulously. It was almost as if she doubted Maria's 

"Why, Maria Edgham!" she said, finally. "What is 
the matter?" 



"What do you mean, dear?" 

"What have you done to yourself to make you look 
so queer ? Oh, I see what it is! It's your hair. Maria, 
dear, what have you strained it off your forehead in 
that way for? It makes you look — why — " 

Then Maria lied. "My hair has been growing far- 
ther and farther off my forehead lately," said she, 
"and I thought possibly the reason was because I cov- 
ered it. I thought if I brushed my hair back it would 
be better for it. Then, too, my head has ached some, 
and it seemed to me the pain in my forehead would be 
better if I kept it cooler." 

"But, Maria," said Evelyn, "you don't look so 
pretty. You don't, dear, honest. I hate to say so, 
but you don't." 

"Well I am afraid the pretty part of it will have to 
go," said Maria, going towards the door. 

"Oh, Maria, please pull your hair over your forehead 
just a little." 

" No, dear, I have it all fixed for the day, and it must 
stay as it is." 

Evelyn followed Maria down-stairs. She had a puz- 
zled expression. Maria's hair was diverting her from 
her own troubles. She could not understand why any 
girl should deliberately make herself homely. She felt 
worried. It even occurred to wonder if anything could 
be the matter with Maria's mind. 

When the two girls went into the little dining-room, 
where breakfast was ready for them, Aunt Maria began 
to say something about the weather, then she cut her- 
self short when she saw Maria. 

"Maria Edgham," said she, "what on earth — " 

Maria took her place at the table. "Those gems 
look delicious," she observed. But Aunt Maria was 
not to be diverted. 

"I don't want to hear anything about gems," said 


she. "They are good enough, I guess. I always could 
make gems, but what I want to know is if you have 
gone clean daft." 

"I don't think so," replied Maria, laughing. 

But Aunt Maria continued to stare at her with an 
expression of almost horror. 

"What under the sun have you got your hair done 
up that way for?" said she. 

Maria repeated what she had told Evelyn. 

"Stuff!" said Aunt Maria. "It will make the hair 
grow farther back straining it off your forehead that 
way, I can tell you that. You don't use common- 
sense, and as for your headache, I guess the hair didn't 
make it ache. It's the first I've heard of it. You look 
like a fright, I can tell you that." 

"Well, I can't help it," said Maria. "I shall have to 
behave well to make up." 

" Maria Edgham, you don't mean to say you are go- 
ing to school looking as you do now!" 

Maria laughed, and buttered a gem. 

"You look old enough to be your own grandmother. 
You have spoiled your looks." 

"Looks don't amount to much," said Maria. 

"Maria Edgham, are you crazy?" 

"I hope not." 

"I told sister she didn't look so pretty," said Evelyn. 

"Look so pretty? She looks like a homely old maid. 
Your nose looks a yard long and your chin looks 
peaked and your mouth looks as if you were as ugly as 
sin. Your forehead is too high; it always was, and 
you ought to thank the Lord that he gave you pretty 
hair, and enough of it to cover up your forehead, and 
now you've gone and strained it back just as tight as 
you can and made a knot like a tough doughnut at the 
back of your head. You look like a crazy thing, I can 
tell you that." 



Maria said nothing. She ate her breakfast, while 
Aunt Maria and Evelyn could not eat much and were 
all the time furtively watching her. 

Aunt Maria took Evelyn aside before the sisters left 
for school, and asked her in a whisper if she thought 
anything was wrong with Maria, if she had noticed any- 
thing, but Evelyn said she had not. But she and 
Aunt Maria looked at each other with eyes of frightened 

When Maria had her hat on she looked, if anything, 

"Good land!" said Aunt Maria, when she saw her. 
"Well, if you are set on making a spectacle of yourself, 
I suppose you are." 

After the girls had gone she went into the other side 
of the house and told Eunice. ''There she has gone 
and made herself look like a perfect scarecrow," she 
said. " I wonder if there is any insanity in her father's 

"Did she look so bad?" asked Eunice, with a stare of 
terror at her sister-in-law. 

"Look so bad! She looked as old and homely as 
you and I every bit." 

Maria made as much of a sensation on the trolley as 
she had done at home. The boy who had persecuted 
her the night before with his attentions bowed to 
Evelyn, and glanced at her evidently with no recogni- 
tion. After a while he came to Evelyn and asked 
where her sister was that morning. Maria laughed, 
and he looked at her, then he fairly turned pale, and 
lifted his hat. He mumbled something and returned 
to his seat. Maria was conscious of his astonished and 
puzzled gaze at her all the way. When she reached 
the academy the other teachers — that is, the women — 
assailed her openly. One even attempted to loosen by 
force Maria's tightly strained locks. 



"Why, Miss Edgham, you fairly frighten me," she 
said, when Maria resisted. 

Maria realized the amazement of the pupils when they 
entered her class-room, the amazement of incredulity 
and almost disgust. Everybody seemed amazed and 
almost disgusted except Wollaston Lee. He did, in- 
deed, give one slightly surprised glance at her, then he 
seemed to notice nothing different in her appearance. 
The man's sense of duty and honor was so strong that 
in reality his sense of externals was blunted. He had 
a sort of sublime short-sightedness to everything that 
was not of the spirit. He had been convinced the night 
previous that Maria was beginning to regard him with 
favor, and being convinced of that made him insensible 
to any mere outward change in her. She looked to 
him, on the whole, prettier than usual because he seemed 
to see in her love for himself. 

When the noon intermission came he walked into her 
class-room, and invited Maria and Evelyn to go with 
him to a near-by restaurant and lunch. 

"I would ask you to go home with me," he said, 
apologetically, to Maria, "but mother has a cold." 

Maria turned pale. She wondered if he had possibly 
told his mother. Then she remembered how he had 
promised her not to tell without her permission, and 
was reassured. Evelyn blushed and smiled and 
dimpled, and cast one of her sweet, dark glances at him, 
which he did not notice at all. His attention was fixed 
upon Maria, who hesitated, regarding him with her 
pale, pinched face. Evelyn took it for granted that 
Mr. Lee's invitation was only on her account, and that 
Maria was asked simply as a chaperon, and because, in- 
deed, he could not very well avoid it. She jumped up 
and got her hat. 

"It will be perfectly lovely," she said, and faced 
them both, her charming face one glow of delight. 



But Maria did not rise. She looked at the basket of 
luncheon which she had begun to unpack, and replied, 
coldly, "Thank you, Mr. Lee, but we have our luncheon 
with us." 

Wollaston looked at her in a puzzled way. 

4 'But you could have something hot at the res- 
taurant," he said. The words were not much, but in 
reality he meant, and Maria so understood him, " Why, 
what do you mean, after last night ? You know how I 
feel about you. Why do you refuse ?" 

Maria took another sandwich from her basket. 
" Thank you for asking us, Mr. Lee," she said, "but we 
have our luncheon." 

Her tone was fairly hostile. The hostility was not 
directed towards him, but towards the weakness in her- 
self. But that he could not understand. 

"Very well," he said, in a hurt manner. "Of course 
I will not urge you, Miss Edgham." Then he walked 
out of the room, hollowing his back and holding his 
head very straight in a way he had had from a boy 
when he was offended. 

Evelyn pulled off her hat with a jerk. She looked at 
Maria with her eyes brilliant with tears. "I think you 
were mean, sister," she whispered, "awful mean; so 

"I thought it was better not to go," Maria replied. 
Her tone was at once stern and pitiful. Evelyn noticed 
only the sternness. She began to weep softly. 

"There, he wanted me, too," she said, "and of course 
he had to ask you, and you knew — I think you might 
have, sister." 

"I thought it was better not," repeated Maria. 
"Now, dear, you had better eat your luncheon." 
"I don't want any luncheon." 

Maria began to eat a sandwich herself. There was an 
odd meekness and dejectedness in her manner. Pres- 



ently she laid the half -eaten sandwich on the table and 
took out her handkerchief, and shook all over with help- 
less and silent sobs. 

Then Evelyn looked at her, her pouting expression 
relaxed gradually. She looked bewildered. 

" Why, what are you crying for ?" she asked, in a low 

Maria did not answer. 

Presently Evelyn rose and went over to her sister, 
and laid her cheek alongside hers and kissed her. 

" Don't, sister," she whispered. "I am sorry. I 
didn't mean to be cross. I suppose you were right not 
to go, only I did want to." Evelyn snivelled a little. 
"I know he was hurt, too," she said. 

Maria raised her head and wiped her eyes. "I did 
not think it was best," she said yet again. Then she 
looked at Evelyn and tried to smile. " Don't worry, 
precious," she said. " Everything will come out all right." 

Evelyn gazed wonderingly at her sister's tear-stained 
face. "I don't see what you cried for, and I don't see 
why you wouldn't go," she said. "The scholars will 
see you have been crying, and he will see, too. I don't 
see why you feel badly. I should think I was the one 
to feel badly." 

"Everything will come out all right," repeated Maria. 
"Don't worry, sister's own darling." 

"Everybody will see that you have been crying," 
said Evelyn, who was in the greatest bewilderment. 
" What did make you cry, Maria?" 

"Nothing, dear. Don't think any more about it," 
said Maria rising. She took a tumbler from the lunch- 
basket. "Go and fill this with water for me, that is a 
dear," she said. "Then I will bathe my eyes. No- 
body would know that you have been crying." 

"That is because I am not so fair - skinned," said 
Evelyn; "but I don't see." 



She went out with the tumbler, shaking her head in 
a puzzled way. When she returned, Maria had the 
luncheon all spread out on the table, and looked quite 
cheerful in spite of her swollen eyes. The sisters ate 
together, and Evelyn was very sweet in spite of her 
disappointment. She was in reality very sweet and 
docile before all her negatives of life, and always would 
be. Her heart was always in leading-strings of love. 
She looked affectionately at Maria as they ate the 

"I am so sorry I was cross," she said. "I suppose 
you thought that it would look particular if we went 
out to lunch with Mr. Lee." 

"Yes, I think it might have," replied Maria. 

"Well, I suppose it would," said Evelyn with a sigh, 
"and I know all the other girls are simply dying for 
him, but he asked us, after all." Evelyn said the last 
with an indescribable air of sweet triumph. It was 
quite evident that she regarded the invitation as meant 
for herself alone, and that she took ineffable delight in 
it in spite of the fact that it had been refused. She 
kept glancing out of the window as she ate. Presently 
she looked at her sister and laughed. "There he is 
coming now," she said, "and he is all alone. He didn't 
take anybody else to luncheon." 


Wollaston Lee, approaching the academy on his 
return from his solitary lunch, was quite conscious of 
being commanded by the windows of Maria's class- 
room. He was so conscious that his stately walk be- 
came almost a strut. He felt resentment at Maria. 
He could not help it. He had not been, in fact, so 
much in love with her, as in that attitude of receptivity 
which invites love. He felt that she ought to be in 
love, and he wooed not only the girl but love itself. 
Therefore resentment came more readily than if he had 
actually loved. He had been saying to himself, while 
he was eating his luncheon which mortified pride had 
rendered tasteless, that if it had not been for the fact 
of his absurd alliance with Maria she was the last girl 
in the world to whom he would have voluntarily turned, 
now that he was fully grown, and capable of estimating 
his own character and hers. He said to himself that 
she was pretty, attractive, and of undeniable strength 
of character, and yet that very strength of character 
would have repelled him. He was not a man who 
needed a wife of great strength of character, of consistent 
will. He himself had sufficient. His chances of hap- 
piness would have been greater with a wife in whom 
the affections and emotions were predominant; there 
would have been less danger of friction. Then, too, his 
wife would necessarily have to live with his mother, 
and his mother was very like himself. He said to him- 
self that there would certainly be friction, and yet he 
also said that he could not abandon his attitude of 



readiness to reciprocate should Maria wish for his 

Now, for the first tillie, Wollaston had Evelyn in his 
mind. Of course he had noticed her beauty, and ad- 
mired her. The contrary would not have been possi- 
ble, but now he was conscious of a distinct sensation of 
soothed pride, when he remembered how she had smiled 
and dimpled at his invitation, and jumped up to get 
her hat. 

"That pretty little thing wanted to come, anyhow. 
It is a shame," he thought. Then insensibly he fell to 
wondering how he should feel if it were Evelyn to 
whom he were bound instead of her sister. It did not 
seem possible to him that the younger sister, with her 
ready gratitude and her evident ardor of temperament, 
could smile upon him at night and frown the next 
morning as Maria had done. He considered, also, how 
Evelyn w r ould get on better with his mother. Then he 
resolutely put the thought out of his mind. 

"It is not Evelyn, but Maria," he said to himself, 
and shut his mouth hard. He resumed his attitude of 
obedience to duty, but one who is driven by duty alone 
almost involuntarily balks in spirit. 

Wollaston was conscious of balking, although he 
would not retreat. When he saw Maria again after the 
exercises of the day were closed, and he encountered 
her as she was leaving the academy, she looked dis- 
tinctly homely to him, and yet such was the honor of 
the man that he did not in the least realize that the 
homeliness was an exterior thing. It seemed to him 
that he saw her encompassed with the stiffness of her 
New England antecedents, as with an armor, and that 
he got a new and unlovely view of her character. On 
the contrary, Evelyn's charming, half - smiling, half- 
piteous face turned towards him seemed to afford 
glimpses of sweetest affections and womanly gentleness 



and devotion. Evelyn wished to say that she was 
sorry that they were obliged to refuse his invitation, 
but she did not dare. Instead, she gave him that little, 
half -smiling, half -piteous glance, to which he responded 
with a lighting up of his whole face and lift of his hat. 
Then Evelyn smiled entirely, and her backward glance 
at him was wonderfully alluring, yet maidenly, almost 
childish. Wollaston, on his way home, thought again 
how different it would be if Evelyn, instead of Maria, 
were his wife. Then he put it out of his head resolutely. 

The next morning Maria arranged her hair as usual. 
She had comprehended that something more than mere 
externals were needful to change the mind of a man 
like Wollaston, and she gave up the attempt, it must 
be acknowledged, with a little pleasure. Feminine 
vanity was inherent in Maria. Nobody knew what the 
making herself hideous the day before had cost her. 

"Oh, I am so glad you have done up your hair the 
old way," Evelyn cried, when she saw her, and Aunt 
Maria remarked that she was glad to see that she had 
not quite lost her common-sense. 

Maria began herself to think that she had not evinced 
much sense in her procedure of the day before. She 
had underestimated the character of the man whom 
she had married, and had made herself ridiculous for 
nothing. The boy who was infatuated with her, when 
he saw her on the trolley that morning, made a move- 
ment to go forward and speak to her, then he sat still 
with frequent puzzled glances at her. He was repelled 
if Wollaston was not. This changing of the face of a 
woman in a day's time filled him with suspicion. He 
looked hard at Maria's soft puff of hair, and reflected 
that it might be a wig; that anyway he was not so 
much in love as he had thought, with a girl who could 
look as Maria had done the day before. 

When Maria reached the academy, the teachers greet- 
4S 1 


ed her with enthusiasm. One who was given to ex- 
uberance fairly embraced her. 

1 'Now you are my own beautiful Miss Edgham 
again," said she. 

Wollaston, during the opening exercises, only glanced 
once at her, then he saw no difference. But he did 
look at Evelyn, and when she turned her lovely face 
away before his gaze and a soft blush rose over her 
round cheeks he felt his pulses quicken. But he did 
not speak a word to Maria or Evelyn all day. 

When Evelyn went home that night she was very 
sober. She would not eat her supper, and Maria was 
sure that she heard her sobbing in the night. The next 
morning the child looked pale and wan, and Aunt 
Maria asked harshly if she were sick. Evelyn replied 
no quickly. When she and Maria were outside waiting 
for the trolley, Evelyn said, half catching her breath 
with a sob even then: 

"Mr. Lee didn't speak a word to me all day yester- 
day. I know he did not like it because we didn't go 
to lunch with him." 

"Nonsense, dear," said Maria. Then she added, with 
an odd, secretive meaning in her voice: "Don't worry, 

" 1 can't help it," said Evelyn. 

When the term was about half finished it became 
evident to Maria that she and Evelyn must call upon 
Mrs. Lee, Wollaston's mother. She had put it off as 
long as she could, although all the other teachers had 
called, and Aunt Maria had kept urging her to do so. 

"She is going to think it is awful funny if you don't 
call," she said, "when you used to live in the same 
place, too." 

In reality, Aunt Maria, now that George Ramsey had 
married, was thinking that Wollaston might be a good 
match for Maria, and she wished to prevent her mar- 

45 2 


riage with Professor Lane should he return from Colo- 
rado cured. 

At last Maria felt that she was fairly obliged to go, 
and one Saturday afternoon she and Evelyn went to 
Westbridge for the purpose. Wollaston and his mother 
lived in an exceedingly pretty house. Mrs. Lee had 
artistic taste, and the rooms were unusual though 
simple. Maria looking about, felt a sort of homesick 
longing. She realized how perfectly a home like this 
would have suited her. As for Evelyn, she looked 
about with quick, bright glances, and she treated Mrs. 
Lee as if she were in love with her. She was all the 
time wondering if Wollaston would possibly come in, 
and in lieu of him, she played off her innocent graces 
with no reserve upon his mother. Wollaston did not 
come in. He had gone to the city, but when he came 
home his mother told him of the call. 

"Those Edgham girls who used to live in Edgham, 
the one who teaches in your school, and her sister, 
called this afternoon," said she. 

"Did they?" responded Wollaston. He turned a 
page of the evening paper. It was after dinner, and 
the mother and son were sitting in a tiny room off the 
parlor, from which it was separated by some eastern 
portieres. There was a fire on the hearth. The two 
windows, which were close together, were filled up with 
red and white geraniums. There was a red rug, and 
the walls were lined with books. Outside it had begun 
to snow, and the flakes drifted past the windows filled 
with red and white blossoms like a silvery veil of the 

"Yes," said Mrs. Lee. Then she added, with a keen 
although covert glance at her son: "I like the younger 

"She is considered quite a beauty, I believe," said 



''Quite a beauty; she is a perfect beauty," said his 
mother with emphasis. "It seemed to me I never had 
seen such a perfectly beautiful, sweet girl. I declare, I 
actually wanted to take her in my arms. Anybody 
could live with that girl. As for her sister, I don't like 
her at all." 

Mrs. Lee was very like her son. She had the same 
square jaw and handsome face, which had little of the 
truly feminine in it. Her clear blue eyes surveyed 
every new person with whom she came in contact in 
her new dwelling place, with impartial and pitiless 
scrutiny. When she liked people she said so. When 
she did not she also said so, and, as far as she could, let 
them alone. When she spoke now, she looked as if 
Maria's face was actually before her. She did not 
frown, but her expression was one of complete hostility 
and unsparing judgment. 

"Why don't you like her?" asked her son, with his 
eyes upon his paper. 

"Why don't I like her? She is New England to the 
backbone, and one who is New England to the back- 
bone is insufferable. She is stiff and set in her ways. 
She would go to the stake for a fad, or send her nearest 
and dearest there." 

" She is a very good teacher, and the pupils like her," 
said Wollaston. He kept his voice quite steady. 

"She may be a very good teacher," said his mother. 
"I dare say she is. I can't imagine anybody not 
learning a task which she set them, but I don't like 

"She is pretty — at least, she is called so," said Wol- 
laston. Then he added, with an impulse of loyalty: "I 
think myself that she is very pretty." 

"I don't call her at all pretty," said his mother. 
"She has a nose which looks as if it could pierce fate, 
and she sets her mouth as though she was deciding the 



laws of the universe. It is all very well in a man, that 
kind of a face, but I can't call it pretty in a woman." 

Wollaston glanced at his mother, and an expression 
of covert amusement was on his face as he reflected 
that his mother herself answered her own description of 
poor Maria, and did not dream of it. In fact, the two, 
although one was partly of New England heritage, and 
the other of a wholly different, more southern State, 
they were typically alike. They could meet only to 
love or quarrel ; there could never be neutrality between 
them. Wollaston said no more, but continued reading 
his paper. He did not in reality sense one word which 
he read. He acknowledged to himself that he was very 
unhappy. He was caught in a labyrinth from which 
he saw no way of escape into the open. He realized 
that love for Maria had become almost impossible — 
that is, spontaneous love — even if she should change 
her attitude towards him. He realized a lurking sense 
of guilt as to his sentiments towards Evelyn, and he 
realized also that his mother and Maria could never live 
together in peace. Once Mrs. Lee took a dislike, her 
very soul fastened upon it as with a grip of iron jaws. 
Doubtless if she knew that her son was in honor bound 
to Maria she would try to make the best of it, but the 
best of it would be bad enough. He wondered while 
he sat with the paper before his face what Maria's real 
attitude towards him was. He could not understand 
such apparent inconsistencies in a woman of his moth- 
er's type, and he had been almost sure that one night 
that Maria loved him. 


Maria, after that call, faced her future course more 
fully than ever. She had disliked Mrs. Lee as much as 
Mrs. Lee had disliked her. Only the fact that she was 
Wollaston's mother made her endurable to her. 

''Isn't Mrs. Lee perfectly lovely ?" said Evelyn, when 
she and Maria were on their way home. 

"Yes," Maria answered, but she did not think so. 
Mrs. Lee shone for her only with reflected glory. 

"I wonder where Mr. Lee was?" Evelyn murmured, 

"I don't know," Maria said with an absent air. 
"We did not go to call on him." 

"Of course we didn't," said Evelyn. "Don't be 
cross, sister." 

"I am not in the least cross," Maria answered with 
perfect truth. 

"I didn't know but you were, you spoke so," said 
Evelyn. She leaned wearily against her sister, and 
looked ahead with a hollow, wistful expression. 

Evelyn had grown thin and lost much of her color. 
Aunt Maria and Eunice talked about it when they were 

" I wonder if there is any consumption in her mother's 
family?" Aunt Maria said. 

"I wonder," said Eunice. "I don't like the way she 

''Well, don't say anything about it to Maria, for she 
will worry herself sick," said Aunt Maria. "She sets 
her eyes by Evelyn." 



"Don't you think she notices ?" 

"No, she hasn't said a word about it." 

But Aunt Maria was wrong. Maria had noticed. 
That afternoon, returning from Westbridge, she looked 
anxiously down at her sister. 

"Don't you feel well, dear?" she asked. 

"Perfectly well," Evelyn replied languidly, "only I 
am a little tired." 

"Perhaps it is the spring weather," said Maria. 

Evelyn nodded. It was the beginning of the spring 
term, and spring came like a flood that year. The trees 
fairly seemed to burst forth in green-and-rosy flames, 
and the shrubs in the door-yards bloomed so boldly 
that they shocked rather than pleased. 

"I like the spring to come slowly, so one does not 
feel choked with it," Evelyn said after a little, as she 
gazed out of the window. "There are actually daisies 
in that field. They have come too soon." Evelyn 
spoke with an absurd petulance which was unusual with 

Maria laughed. "Well, dear, we can't help it," she said. 

"If this world is for people, and not the people for 
this world, it seems to me we ought to be able to 
help a little," said Evelyn with perfectly unconscious 
heresy. "There it rained too much last week, and this 
week it is too hot, and the apple blossoms have come 
too soon after the cherry blossoms. It is like eating all 
your candy in one big pill." 

Maria laughed again, but Evelyn sighed wearily. 
The car was very hot and close. 

"I shall be thankful when we get home," Evelyn said. 

"Yes, you will feel better when you get home and 
have some supper," said Maria. 

"I don't want any supper," said Evelyn. 

"If you don't eat any supper you cannot study this 



"I must study," said Evelyn with a feverish light in 
her eyes. 

"You can't unless you eat." 

"Well, I will drink some milk," said Evelyn. She 
was studying very hard. She was very ambitious, both 
naturally and because of her feeling for Wollaston Lee. 
It seemed to her that she should die if she did not 
stand well in her class. Evelyn had received so little 
notice from Wollaston that she had made up her mind 
that he did not care for her, and the conviction was 
breaking her heart, but she said to herself that she 
would graduate with honors that she might have that 
much, that she must. 

The graduating with honors would have been easy to 
the girl, for she had naturally a quick grasp of knowl- 
edge, but her failing health and her almost unconquer- 
able languor made it hard for her to work as usual. 
However, she persisted. It became evident that she 
would stand first among the girls of her class, and only 
second to one boy, who had a large brain and little 
emotion, and so was rendered almost impregnable. Ida 
sent Evelyn a graduating costume from Paris, and the 
girl brightened a little after she had tried it on. She 
could not quite give up all hope of being loved when 
she saw herself in that fluffy white robe, and looked 
over her slender shoulder at her graceful train, and re- 
flected how she should not only look pretty but acquit 
herself with credit. She s^id to herself that if she 
were a man she should love herself. There was 
about Evelyn an almost comical naivete and truthful- 

Ida also sent Maria a gown for the graduating exer- 
cises. Hers was a pale blue, very pretty, but not as 
pretty as Evelyn's. The night after the gowns came 
Maria was startled by a sudden rush into her room 
when she was almost asleep, and Evelyn nestling into 



her arms and sobbing out that she was sorry, she was 
sorry, but she could not help it. 

" Can't help what, darling?" said Maria. 

" Can't help being glad that my dress is so much 
prettier than yours," wept Evelyn. "I am sorry, 
sister, but I can't help it, and I am so ashamed I had 
to come in and tell you." 

Maria laughed and kissed her. " Sister is very glad 
yours is the prettiest," she said. 

"Oh, I am so sorry I am so selfish," sobbed Evelyn. 
Then she added, in a tiny whisper, "I know now he 
won't ever think of me, but I can't help being glad I 
shall look nice for him to see, anyway." 

Evelyn was asleep long before her sister. Maria lay 
awake, with the little, frail body in her arms, realizing 
with horror how very frail and thin it was. Evelyn 
was of the sort whom emotion can kill. She was being 
consumed like a lamp which needed oil. Love was for 
the girl not only a need but a condition of life. Maria 
was realizing it. At the same time she said to herself 
that possibly after school was over and Evelyn could 
rest she might regain her strength. There seemed to 
be no organic trouble. The local physician had been 
consulted, and said that nothing whatever was the 
matter, yet had gone away with a grave face after pre- 
scribing a simple tonic. The fact was that life was 
flickering low, as it sometimes does, with no ostensi- 
ble reason which science could grasp. Evelyn was be- 
yond science. She was assailed in that citadel of spirit 
which overlooks science from the heights of eternity. 
No physician but fate itself could help her. 

All this time, while Maria was suffering as keenly as 
her sister, her suffering left no evidence. She had in- 
herited from her mother a tremendous strength of will, 
which sustained her. She said to herself that she had 
her work to do, that her health must not fail. She said 



that probably Wollaston did not care for her, although 
she could not help thinking that she had the power to 
make him care, and that she would be lacking in all 
that meant her true and best self should she give way 
to her unhappiness and let it master her. She there- 
fore mastered it. In those days to Maria, who had a 
ready imagination, her unhappiness seemed sometimes 
to assume a material shape like the fabulous dragon. 
She seemed to be fighting something with tooth and 
claw, a monstrous verity; but she fought, and she kept 
the upper hand. Maria did not lose flesh. She ate as 
usual, she retained her interest in her work, and all the 
time whenever a moment of solitude came she renewed 
the conflict. She thought as little as possible of Wol- 
laston; she avoided even looking at him. He thought 
that he really was an object of aversion to her. He 
began to question the advisability of his retaining his 
position another year. He told himself that it was 
hardly fair to Maria to subject her to such annoyance, 
that it was much easier for him to obtain another po- 
sition than it was for her. He wanted to ask her 
with regard to it, but in the days before commence- 
ment she so manifestly shrank from even looking at 
him that he hardly liked to approach her even with a 
question which concerned her own happiness. 

Wollaston in those days used sometimes to glance at 
Evelyn, and notice how very thin and delicate she 
looked, and an anxiety which was almost paternal was 
over him. He used almost to wish that she was not so 
proficient in her studies. One day, meeting her in the 
vestibule when no one was in sight, he could not resist 
the impulse which led him to pat her little, dark, curly 
head and say, in a voice broken with tenderness: 

u Don't study too hard, little one." 

Evelyn gave an upward glance at him and ran away. 
Wollaston stood still a moment, dazed. He was not 



naturally a conceited man. Then, too, he had always 
regarded himself as so outside the pale that he doubted 
the evidence of his own senses. If he had not been 
tied to Evelyn's sister he would have said to himself, in 
a rapture, that that look of the young girl's meant, 
could mean, only one thing: that all her innocent heart 
was centred upon himself. It would have savored no 
more of conceit that the seeing his face in a mirror. 
He would simply have thought it the truth. But now, 
since he was always forgetting that other women did 
not know the one woman's secret, and looked upon him 
as an unmarried man, and therefore a fit target for 
their innocent wiles, the preening of their dainty dove 
plumage, he said to himself that he must have been 
mistaken. That Evelyn had looked at him as she had 
done only because she was nervous and overwrought, 
and the least thing was sufficient to disturb her equilib- 

However, he was very careful not to address Evelyn 
particularly again, but that one little episode had been 
sufficient for the girl to build another air castle upon. 
That night when she went home she was radiant with 
happiness. Her color had returned, smiles lit her 
whole face. Ineffable depths of delight sparkled in her 
eyes. It seemed almost a sacrilege to look at the young 
girl, whose heart was so plainly evident in her face. 
Maria looked at her, and felt a chill in her own heart. 

"Something must have happened," she said to her- 
self. She thought that Evelyn would tell her, but 
she did not; she ate her supper with more appetite 
than she had shown for many a week. Her gayety in 
the evening, when some neighbors came in, was so un- 
restrained and childlike that it was fairly infectious. 
They sat out on the front door-step. It had been a 
warm day, and the evening cool was welcome and 
laughter floated out into the street. It was laughter 



over nothing, but irresistible, induced because of the 
girl's exuberant mood. She felt that night as if there 
was no meaning in the world except happiness and fun. 
George Ramsey, going home about .nine o'clock, heard 
the laughter, and shrugged his shoulders rather bitterly. 
Lily had made him such a good wife, according to the 
tenets of wifehood, that he had apparently no reason to 
complain. She was always perfectly amiable and affec- 
tionate, not violently affectionate, but with the sort 
of affection which does not ruffle laces nor disarrange 
hair, and that he had always considered the most de- 
sirable sort of affection in the long-run. She and his 
mother got on very well also — that is, apparently. 
Lily, it was true, always had her way, but she had it 
so gently and unobtrusively that one really doubted if 
she were not herself the conceder. She always looked 
the same, she dressed daintily, and arranged her fair 
hair beautifully. George did not own to himself that 
sameness irritated him when it was such charming 
sameness. However, he did sometimes realize, and 
sternly put it away from him, a little sting when he 
happened to meet Maria. He had a feeling as if he 
had gone from a waxwork show and met a real woman. 

To-night when he heard the peals of laughter from 
the front door of the Stillman house he felt the sting 
again, and an unwarrantable childish indignation as if 
he had been left out of something and slighted. He 
was conscious of wishing when he reached home that 
his wife would greet him with a frown and reproaches; 
in fact, with something new, instead of her sweet, 
gentle smile of admiration, looking up from her ever- 
lasting embroidering, from w T here she sat beside the 
sitting-room lamp. George felt furious with her for 
admiring him. He sat down moodily and took up the 
evening paper. His mother was not there. She had 
gone to her room early with a headache. 



Finally, Lily remarked that it was a beautiful night, 
and it was as exactly what might have been expected 
from her flower - like hps as the squeaking call for 
mamma of a talking doll. George almost grunted a 
response, and rattled his paper loudly. Lily looked at 
him with a little surprise, but with unfailing love and 
admiration. George had sometimes a feeling that if he 
were to beat her she would continue to admire him and 
think it lovely of him. Lily had, in fact, the soul of 
an Oriental woman in the midst of New England. She 
would have figured admirably in a harem. George, be- 
ing Occidental to his heart's core, felt an exasperation 
the worse because it was needfully dumb, on account of 
this adoration. He thought less of himself because his 
wife thought he could do no wrong. The power of do- 
ing wrong is, after all, a power, and George had a feel- 
ing of having lost that power and of being in a negative 
way wronged. Finally he spoke crossly to Lily over 
his newspaper. 

"Why do you stick so to that everlasting fancy- 
work?" said he. "Why on earth don't you sometimes 
run out of an evening? You never go into the next 
house nowadays." 

Lily arose directly. 

"We will go over there now if you wish," said she. 
She laid down her work and smoothed her hair with 
her doll-like gesture, which never varied. 

George looked at her surlily and irresolutely. 

"No, I guess we had better not to-night," he said. 

"I had just as lief, dear." 

George rose, letting his paper slide to the floor. 

"Well," he said, "they are all out on the front door- 
step, and I think some of the neighbors are there, too. 
We might run over a moment. It is too hot to stay in 
the house, anyway." 

But when George and Lily came alongside the Still- 


man house the laughter was hushed, and there was a 
light in Aunt Maria's bedroom, and lights also in the 
chambers behind the drawn curtains. 

"We are too late," said George. "They have gone 
to bed." 

"I think they have," replied Lily, looking up at the 
lighted bedroom windows. Then she added, "I will go 
over there any evening you wish, dear," and looked at 
him with that unfailing devotion which unreasonably 
angered him. 

He answered her quite roughly, and was ashamed of 
himself afterwards. 

"It is a frightfully monotonous life we lead anyhow," 
said he, as if she, Lily, were responsible for it. 

"Suppose we go away a week somewhere next 
month," said Lily. 

"Well, I'll think of it," said he, striding along by her 
side. Even that suggestion, which was entirely rea- 
sonable, angered him, and he felt furious and ashamed 
of himself for being so angered. 

Lily was constantly making him ashamed of himself 
for not being a god and for feeling unreasonable anger 
when she did nothing to provoke it. Once in a while 
a man likes to have a reasonable cause for resentment 
in order to prove himself in the right. 

"Well, I am ready to go whenever you wish to do so, 
dear," said Lily. "My wardrobe is in order." 

' 'Well, we'll see," George grunted again, as he and 
Lily retraced their steps. 

They sat down again in the sitting-room, and Lily 
took up her embroidery, and he read a murder case in 
his paper. 

Meanwhile, Maria, after putting out her lamp, was 
lying awake in bed thinking that Evelyn would come 
in and make some confidence to her, but she did not 
come. Maria felt horribly uneasy. She could not un- 



derstand her sister's sudden change of mood, and yet 
she did not for a moment doubt Wollaston. She said 
to herself that as far as she was concerned she would 
brave the publicity if Wollaston loved Evelyn, but she 
recalled as exactly as if she had committed them to 
heart what Evelyn had said with regard to divorce and 
the horror which she had expressed of a divorced man 
or woman remarrying. Then she further considered 
how much worse it would be if the divorced man mar- 
ried her own sister. That course seemed to her impos- 
sible. She imagined the horrible details, the surmises, 
the newspaper articles, and she said to herself that 
even if she herself were willing to face the ordeal it 
would be still more of an ordeal for Wollaston and 
Evelyn. She said to herself that it was impossible; 
then she also said to herself, with no bitterness, but 
with an acquiescence in the logic of it, that it would be 
much better for them all if she, Maria, should die. 


Evelyn's return of appetite and spirits endured only 
a few days. Then she seemed worse than she had been 
before. In fact, Wollaston, thinking that he had done 
wrong in yielding for only a second to his impulse of 
tender protection and admiration for the young girl, 
went too far in the opposite direction. In order to 
make amends to Maria, himself, and Evelyn, he was 
actually rude, almost brutal. He scarcely spoke to 
Evelyn. On one occasion he even reprimanded her 
severely in a class for a slight mistake. Evelyn turned 
pale, and gave him a glance like that of some pretty, 
little, harmless animal which has nothing except love 
and devotion in its heart, and whose very mistakes are 
those of love and over-anxiety to please. Wollaston 
was struck to the heart by the look, but he did not re- 
lax one muscle of his stern face. 

"I think Mr. Lee treated you mean, so there/' Addie 
Hemingway said to Evelyn when they had left the room. 

Evelyn said nothing. Her face continued pale and 
shocked. It was inconceivable to her that anybody, 
least of all Mr. Lee, could have spoken so to her. 

"He's treating you like a child," Addie Hemingway 
continued. "Mr. Lee has no right to speak so to 
seniors." Addie's words were in themselves sympa- 
thetic, but there was an undertone of delight at the 
other girl's discomfiture in her voice which she could 
not eliminate. In reality she was saying to herself 
that Evelyn Edgham, in spite of her being so pretty, 
had had to meet a rebuff, and she exulted in it. 



Evelyn still said nothing. She left Addie abruptly 
and joined Maria in her class-room. It was the noon- 
hour. Maria glanced anxiously at her sister as she 

"Why, darling, what is the matter ?" she cried. 

" Nothing," replied Evelyn. An impulse of loyalty 
seized her. She would not repeat, not even to Maria, 
the unkind words which Mr. Lee had used towards her. 

"But you look so pale, dear," said Maria. 

"It was warm in there," said Evelyn, with a quiet, 
dejected air unusual to her. 

Maria could not get any admission that anything was 
wrong from her. Evelyn tried to eat her luncheon, 
making more of an effort than usual, but she could not. 
At last she laid her head down on her sister's table and 
wept with the utter abandon of a child, but she still 
would not tell what caused her tears. 

After that Evelyn lost flesh so rapidly that it became 
alarming. Maria and her aunt wondered if they ought 
to allow her to go through the strain of the graduation 
exercises, but neither dared say anything about it to 
her. Evelyn's whole mind seemed fastened upon her 
graduation and the acquitting of herself with credit. 
She studied assiduously. She often used to go into the 
spare chamber and gaze at her graduating dress, which 
was spread out on the bed there covered with a sheet. 

"She's so set on that graduation and wearing that 
dress," Aunt Maria said to Eunice Stillman, her sister- 
in-law, one day when she was alone with her in her 
parlor and heard Evelyn's light step overhead. "She 
goes in there almost every day and looks at it." 

Eunice sighed. "Well, I wish she looked better," 
said she. 

"So do I. It seems to me that she loses every day." 
"Did you ever think — " began Eunice. Then she 
stopped and hesitated. 



"Think what?" 

"If — anything happened to her, that that dress — 99 
"Oh, for the land sake, stop, Eunice!" cried Aunt 
Maria, impatiently. " Ain't I had it on my mind the 
whole time. And that dress looks just as if it was laid 
out there." 

"Do you think Maria notices?" 

"Yes, she's just as worried as I am. But what can 
we do? Maybe if Evelyn gets through the graduation 
she will be better. I shall be thankful when it's over, 
for my part." 

"How that child's mother could have gone off and 
left her all this time I don't see," Eunice said. "If I 
were in her place and anything happened to her, I 
should never forgive myself." 

"Trust Ida Slome to forgive herself for most any- 
thing," Aunt Maria returned, bitterly. "But as far as 
that goes, I guess the child has had full as good care 
here as she would have had with her ma." 

"I guess so, too," said Eunice; "better — only I should 
never forgive myself." 

That was only a week before the graduation day, 
which was on a Wednesday. It was a clear June day, 
with a sky of blue, veiled here and there with wing- 
shaped clouds. It was quite warm. Evelyn dressed 
herself very early. She was ready long before it was 
time to take the car. Evelyn, in her white graduating 
dress, was fairly angelic. Although she had lost so 
much flesh, it had not affected her beauty, only made it 
more touching. Her articulations and bones were so 
fairy-like and delicate that even with her transparent 
sleeved and necked dress there were no unseemly pro- 
tuberances. Her slenderness, moreover, was not so 
apparent in her fluffy gown. Above her necklace of 
pink corals her lovely face showed. It was full of a 
gentle and uncomplaining melancholy, yet that day 



there was a tinge of hope in it. The faintest and most 
appealing smile curved her lips. She looked at every- 
body with a sort of wistful challenge. It was as if she 
said: * ' After all, am I not pretty, and worthy of being 
loved ? Am I not worthy of being loved, even if I am 
not, and I have all my books in my head, too?" 

Maria had given her a bouquet of red roses. When 
Evelyn in her turn came forward to read her essay, 
holding her red roses, with red roses of excitement burn- 
ing on her delicate cheeks, there was a low murmur of 
admiration. Then it was that Maria, in her blue gown, 
seated among the other teachers, caught the look on 
Wollaston Lee's face. It was unmistakable. It was a 
look of the utmost love and longing and admiration, the 
soul of the man, for the minute, was plainly to be read. 
In a second, the look was gone, but Maria had seen. " He 
is in love with her," she told herself, "only he is so 
honorable that he chokes the love back." Maria turned 
very pale, but she listened with smiling lips to Evelyn's 
essay. It was very good, but not much beyond the 
usual rate of such productions. Evelyn had nothing 
creative about her, although she was even a brilliant 
scholar. But the charm of that little flutelike voice, 
coming from that slight, white-clad beauty, made even 
platitudes seem like something higher than wisdom. 

When Evelyn had finished there was a great round of 
applause and a shower of flowers. She returned again 
and again, and bowed, smiling delightedly. She was 
flushed with her triumph. She thought that even Mr. 
Lee must be pleased with her, if he did not love her, 
and be proud to have such a pupil. 

That evening there was to be a reception for the 
teachers, and the graduating-class, at Mr. Lee's house. 
Evelyn and Maria had planned to go to one of the other 
teacher's, who lived in Westbridge, have supper, and go 
from there to the reception. But when the exercises 



were over, and they had reached the teacher's home, 
Evelyn's strength gave way. She had a slight fainting 
fit. The teacher, an elderly woman who lived alone, 
gave her home-made wine and made her take off her 
dress, put on one of her own wrappers, and lie down and 
rest until the last minute, in the hope that she would be 
able to go to the reception. But it became evident that 
the girl was too exhausted. When Maria and the 
teacher were fastening her dress again, she fainted the 
second time. The teacher, who was a decisive woman, 

" There is no sense whatever in this child's leaving this 
house to-night," said she. " Maria, you go to the recep- 
tion, and I will stay and take care of her." 

"No," said Maria. "If Evelyn is not able to go, I 
think we had better take the trolley at once for home." 
Maria was as decided as the other teacher. When the 
white-clad graduates and the teachers were gathering at 
Wollaston Lee's, she and Evelyn boarded the trolley for 
Amity. Evelyn still held fast to her bouquet of red roses, 
and Maria was laden with baskets and bouquets which 
had been strewn at her shrine. Evelyn leaned back in 
her seat, with her head resting against the window, and 
did not speak. All her animation of the morning had 
vanished. She looked ghastly. Maria kept glancing 
furtively at her. She herself looked nearly as pale as 
Evelyn. She realized that she was face to face with a 
great wall of problem. She was as unhappy as Evelyn, 
but she was stronger to bear unhappiness. She had 
philosophy, and logic, and her young sister was a creature 
of pure emotion, and at the same time she was so inno- 
cent and ignorant that she was completely helpless 
before it. Evelyn closed her eyes as she leaned against 
the window-frame, and a chill crept over her sister as 
she thought that she could not look much different if 
she were dead. Then came to Maria the conviction that 



this sister's life meant more than anything else in the 
world to her. That she could bear the loss of everything 
rather than that, and when she too would not be able 
to avoid the sense of responsibility for it. If she had 
not been so headlong and absurdly impetuous years ago, 
Evelyn might easily have been happy and lived. 

When they reached home, Aunt Maria, who had come 
on an earlier car, was already in her bedroom and the 
front-door was fastened and the sitting-room windows 
were dark. Maria knocked on the door, and presently 
she heard footsteps, then Aunt Maria's voice, asking, 
with an assumption of masculine harshness, who were 

"It is only I and Evelyn," replied Maria. 

Then the door was opened, and Aunt Maria, in her 
ruffled night-gown and cap, holding a streaming lamp, 
stood back hastily lest somebody see her. "Come in 
and shut the door quick, for goodness sake!" said she. 
"I am all undressed." 

Maria and Evelyn went in, and Maria closed and lock- 
ed the door. 

"What have you come home for?" asked Aunt Maria. 
"Why didn't you go to the reception, and stay at Miss 
Thomas's, the way you said you were going to, I'd 
like to know?" 

"Evelyn didn't feel very well, and I thought we'd 
better come home," replied Maria, with a little note of 
evasion in her voice. 

Aunt Maria turned and looked sharply at Evelyn, 
who was leaning against the wall. She was faint again, 
and she looked, in her white dress with her slender 
curves, like a bas-relief. "What on earth is the matter 
with her?" asked Aunt Maria in her angry voice, which 
was still full of the most loving concern. She caught 
hold of Evelyn's slight arm. "You are all tired out, 
just as I expected," she said. "I call the whole thing 

3i 471 


pure tomfoolery. If girls want to get educated, let them, 
but when it comes to making such a parade when they 
are all worn out with education there is no sense in it. 
Maria, you get her up-stairs to bed." 

Evelyn was too exhausted to make any resistance. 
She allowed Maria to assist her up-stairs and undress 
her. When her sister bent over her to kiss her good- 
night, she said, soothingly, "There now, darling; go to 
sleep. You will feel better now school is done and you 
will have a chance to rest." 

But Evelyn responded with the weakest and most 
hopeless little sob. 

"Don't cry, precious, " said Maria. 

u Won't you tell if I tell you something ?" said Evelyn, 
raising herself on one slender arm. 

"No, dear." 

"Well — he does — care a good deal about me. I know 
now. I — I met him out in the grove after the exercises 
were over, and — there was nobody there, and he — he 
caught hold of my arms, and, Maria, he looked at me, 
but — " Evelyn burst into a weak little wail. 

"What is it, dear?" 

"Oh, I don't know what it is, but for some reason he 
thinks he can't tell me. He did not say so, but he made 
me know, and — and oh, Maria, he is going away! He is 
not coming back to Westbridge at all. He is going to 
get another place!" 


"Yes, it is so. He said so. Oh, Maria! you will 
think I am dreadful, and I do love you and Aunt Maria 
and Uncle Henry and Aunt Eunice, but I can't help 
minding his going away where I can never see him, more 
than anything else in the world. I can't help loving him 
most. I do feel so very badly, sister, that I think I 
shall die." 

"Nonsense, darling." 



"Yes, I shall. And I am not ashamed now. I was 
ashamed because I thought so much about a man who 
did not care anything about me, but now I am not 
ashamed. I am just killed. A person is not to blame 
for being killed. I am not ashamed. I am killed. He 
is going away, and I shall never see him again. The 
sight of him was something; I shall not even have that. 
You don't know, sister. I don't love him for my own 
self, but for himself. Just the knowing he is near is 
something, and I shall not even have that." Evelyn 
was too weak to cry tumultuously, but she made little, 
futile moans, and clung to Maria's hand. Maria tried 
to soothe her, and finally the child, worn out, seemed 
to be either asleep or in the coma of exhaustion. 

Then Maria went into her own room. She undressed, 
and sat down beside the window with a wrapper over 
her night-gown. Now she had to solve her problem. 
She began as she might have done with a problem in 
higher algebra, this problem of the human heart and 
its emotions. She said to herself that there were three 
people. Evelyn, Wollaston and herself, three known 
quantities, and an unknown quantity of happiness, and 
perhaps life itself, which must be evolved from them. 
She eliminated herself and her own happiness not with 
any particular realization of self-sacrifice. She came of 
a race of women to whom self-sacrifice was more natural 
than self-gratification. She was unhappy, but there 
was no struggle for happiness to render the unhappi- 
ness keener. She thought first of Evelyn. She loved 
Wollaston. Maria reasoned, of course, that she was 
very young. This first love might not be her only 
one, but the girl's health might break under the strain, 
and she took into consideration, as she had often done, 
the fairly abnormal strength of Evelyn's emotional 
nature in a slight and frail young body. Evelyn was 
easily one who might die because of a thwarted love. 



Then Maria thought of Wollaston, and, loving him as 
she did, she acknowledged to herself coolly that he was 
the first to be considered, his happiness and well being. 
Even if Evelyn did break her heart, the man must have 
the first consideration. She tried to judge fairly as to 
whether she or Evelyn would on the whole be the best 
for him. She estimated herself, and she estimated 
Evelyn, and she estimated the man. Wollaston Lee 
was a man of a strong nature, she told herself. He was 
capable of self-restraint, of holding his head up from 
his own weaknesses forever. Maria reasoned that if he 
had been a weaker man she would have loved him just 
the same, and in that case Evelyn would have been the 
one to be sacrificed. She thought that a girl like 
Evelyn would not have been such a good wife for a 
weak man as she herself, who was stronger. But Wol- 
laston did not need any extraneous strength. On the 
contrary, some one who was weaker than he might 
easily strengthen his strength. It seemed to her that 
Evelyn was distinctly better for the man than she. 
Then she remembered the look which she had seen on 
his face when Evelyn began her essay that day. 

' ' If he does not love her now it is because he is bound 
to me," she thought. "He would most certainly love 
her if it were not for me." 

Again it seemed to Maria distinctly better that she 
should die, better — that is, for Evelyn and the man. 
But she had the thought, with no morbid desire for 
suicide or any bitterness. It simply seemed to her as 
if her elimination would produce that desirable un- 
known quantity of happiness. 

Elimination and not suicide seemed to her the only 
course for her to pursue. She sat far into the night 
thinking it over. She had great imagination and great 
daring. Things were possible to her which would not 
have been possible to many — that is, she considered 



things as possibilities which would have seemed to 
many simply vagaries. She thought of them seri- 
ously, with a belief in their fulfilment. It was almost 
morning, the birds had just begun to sing in scattering 
flute-like notes, when she crept into bed. 

She hardly slept at all. She heard the gathering 
chorus of the birds, in a half doze, until seven o'clock. 
Then she got up and dressed herself. She peeped cau- 
tiously into Evelyn's room. The girl was sleeping, her 
long, dark lashes curled upon her wan cheeks. She 
looked ghastly, yet still lovely. Maria looked at her, 
and her mouth compressed. Then she turned away. 
She crept noiselessly down the stairs and into the 
kitchen where Aunt Maria was preparing breakfast. 
The stove smoked a little and the air was blue. 

"How is she?" asked Aunt Maria, in a hushed voice. 

"She is fast asleep." 

"Better let her sleep just as long as she will," said 
Aunt Maria. "These exhibitions are pure tomfoolery. 
She is just tuckered out." 

"Yes, I think she is," said Maria. 

Aunt Maria looked keenly at her, and her face paled 
and lengthened. 

"Maria Edgham, what on earth is the matter with 
yonV she said. "You look as bad as she does. Be- 
tween both of you I am at my wit's end." 

"Nothing ails me," said Maria. 

"Nothing ails you? Look at yourself in the glass 

Maria stole a look at herself in a glass which hung 
over the kitchen-table, and she hardly knew her own 
face, it had gathered such a strange fixedness of 
secret purpose. That had altered it more than her 
pallor. Maria tried to smile and say again that nothing 
ailed her, but she could not. Suddenly a tremendous 
pity for her aunt came over her. She had not thought 



so much about that. But now she looked at things 
from her aunt's point of view, and she saw the pain to 
which the poor old woman must be put. She saw no 
way of avoiding the giving her the pain, but she suffered 
it herself. She went up to Aunt Maria and kissed her. 

Aunt Maria started back, and rubbed her face vio- 
lently. "What did you do that for?" said she, in a 
frightened voice. Then she noticed Maria's dress, 
which was one which she seldom w T ore unless she was 
going out. "What have you got on your brown suit 
for this morning?" said she. 

"I thought I would go down to the store after break- 
fast and get some embroidery silk for that centre- 
piece," replied Maria. 

As she spoke she seemed to realize what a little thing 
a lie w T as t and how odd it was that she should realize it, 
who had been brought up to speak the truth. 

"Your gingham would have been enough sight better 
to have worn this hot morning," said Aunt Maria, still 
with that air of terror and suspicion. 

"Oh, this dress is light," replied Maria, going out. 

"Where are you going now?" 

"Into the parlor." 

Aunt Maria stood still, listening, until she heard the 
parlor door open. She was still filled with vague suspi- 
cion. She did not hear quite as acutely as formerly, 
and Maria had no difficulty about leaving the parlor 
unheard the second after she entered it, and getting her 
hat and coat and a small satchel which she had brought 
down -stairs with her from the hat -tree in the entry. 
Then she opened the front door noiselessly and stole out. 
She went rapidly down the street in the direction of the 
bridge, which she had been accustomed to cross when 
she taught school in Amity. She met Jessy Ramsey, 
now grown to be as tall as herself, and pretty with a 
half-starved, pathetic prettiness. Jessy was on her way 



to work. She went out by the day, doing washings. 
She stopped when she met Maria, and gave a little, shy 
look — her old little-girl look — at her. Maria also 
stopped. "Good-morning, Jessy," said she. Then she 
asked how she was, if her cough was better, and where 
she was going to work. Then, suddenly, to Jessy's utter 
amazement and rapture, she kissed her. "I never forget 
what a good little girl you were," said she, and was 
gone. Jessy stood for a moment staring after her. Then 
she wiped her eyes and proceed to her scene of labor. 

Maria went to the railroad station. She was just in 
time for a train. She got on the rear car and sat in the 
last seat. She looked about and did not see anybody 
whom she knew. She recalled how she had run away 
before, and how Wollaston had brought her back. She 
knew that it would not happen so again. She was on a 
through train which did not stop at the station where 
he had found her. When the train slowed up a little in 
passing that station, she saw the bench on the platform 
where she had sat, and a curious sensation came over her. 
She was like one who has made the leap and realizes that 
there is nothing more to dread, and who gets even a cer- 
tain abnormal pleasure from the sensation. When the 
conductor came through the car she purchased her ticket 
for New York, and asked when the train was due in the 
city. When she learned that it was due at an hour so late 
that it would be impossible for her to go, as she had 
planned, to Edgham that night, she did not, even then, 
for the time being, feel in the least dismayed. She had 
plenty of money. Her last quarter's salary was in her 
little satchel. The train was made up of Pullmans only, 
and it was by a good chance that she had secured a seat. 
She gazed out of the large window at the flying land- 
scape, and again that sense of pleasure in the midst of 
pain was over her. The motion itself was exhilarating. 
She seemed to be speeding past herself and her own 



anxieties, which suddenly appeared as petty and evanes- 
cent as the flying telegraph-poles along the track. "It 
has to be over some time," she reflected. "Nothing 
matters." She felt comforted by a realization of im- 
mensity and the continuance of motion. She compre- 
hended her own atomic nature in the great scheme of 
things. She had never done so before. Her own inter- 
ests had always loomed up before her like a beam in the 
eye of God. Now she saw that they were infinitesimal, 
and the knowledge soothed her. She leaned her head 
back and dozed a little. She was awakened by the 
porter thrusting a menu into her hands. She ordered 
something. It was not served promptly, and she had 
no appetite. There was some tea which tasted of soap. 


There were very few people in this car, for the reason 
that there had recently been a terrible rear-end collision 
on the road, and people had flocked into the forward 
cars. There were three young girls who filled the car 
with chatter, and irritated Maria unreasonably. They 
were very pretty and well dressed, and with no reserve. 
They were as inconsequently confidential about their 
own affairs as so many sparrows, but more intelligible. 
One by one the men left and went into the smoker, before 
this onslaught of harsh trebles shrieking above the roar 
of the train, obtruding their little, bird-like affairs, their 
miniature hoppings upon the stage of life, upon all in 
the car. 

Finally, there were none left in the car except Maria, 
these young girls, an old lady, who accosted the conduct- 
ors whenever they entered and asked when the train 
was due in New York (a tremulous, vibratory old lady 
in antiquated frills and an agitatedly sidewise bonnet, 
and loose black silk gloves), and across the aisle a tiny, 
deformed woman, a dwarf, in fact, with her maid. This 
little woman was richly dressed, and she had a fine face. 
She was old enough to be Maria's mother. Her eyes 
were dark and keen, her forehead domelike, and her 
square, resigned chin was sunken in the laces at her 
throat. Her maid was older than she, and waited upon 
her with a faithful solicitude. The little woman had 
some tea, which the maid produced from a small silver 
caddy in a travelling-bag, and the porter, with an ob- 
sequious air, brought boiling water in two squat, plated 



tea-pots. It was the tea which served to introduce 
Maria. She had just pushed aside, with an air half of 
indifference, half of disgust, her own luke-warm concoc- 
tion flavored with soap, when the maid, at her mistress's 
order, touched the bell. When the porter appeared, 
Maria heard the dwarf ask for another pot of boiling 
water, and presently the maid stood beside her with a 
cup of fragrant tea. 

"Miss Blair wishes me to ask if you will not drink this 
instead of the other, which she fears is not quite satis- 
factory, " the maid said, in an odd, acquired tone and 
manner of ladyism, as if she were repeating a lesson, 
yet there seemed nothing artificial about it. She re- 
garded Maria with a respectful air. Maria looked across 
at the dwarf woman, who was looking at her with kindly 
eyes which yet seemed aloof, and a half-sardonic, half- 
pleasant smile.' ' 

Maria thanked her and took the tea, which was excel- 
lent, and refreshed her. The maid returned to her seat, 
facing her mistress. They had finished their luncheon. 
She leaned back in her chair with a blank expression of 
face. The dwarf looked out of the window, and that 
same half-pleasant, half -sardonic smile remained upon 
her face. It was as if she regarded all nature with 
amused acquiescence and sarcasm, at its inability to 
harm her, although it had made the endeavor. 

Maria glanced at her very rich black attire, and a 
great pearl cross which gleamed at her throat, and she 
wondered a little about her. Then she turned again 
to the flying landscape, and again that sense of unnat- 
ural peace came over her. She did not think of Evelyn 
and Wollaston, or her aunts and uncle, whom she was 
leaving, except with the merest glance of thought. It 
was as if she were already in another world. 

The train sped on, and the girls continued their chat- 
ter, and their high-shrieking trebles arose triumphant 



above all the clatter. It was American girlhood ram- 
pant on the shield of their native land. Still there was 
something about the foolish young faces and the inane 
chatter and laughter which was sweet and even appeal- 
ing. They became attractive from their audaciousness 
and their ignorance that they were troublesome. Their 
confidence in the admiration of all who saw and heard 
almost compelled it. Their postures, their crossing their 
feet with lavish displays of lingerie and dainty feet and 
hose, was possibly the very boldness of innocence, al- 
though Maria now and then glanced at them and thought 
of Evelyn, and was thankful that she was not like them. 

The little dwarf also glanced now and then at them 
with her pleasant and sardonic smile and with an un- 
ruffled patience. She seemed either to look up from the 
depths of, or down from the heights of, her deformity 
upon them, and to hardly sense them at all. None of 
the men returned until a large city was reached, where 
some of them were to get off. Then they lounged into 
the car, were brushed, took their satchels, and when the 
train reached the station swung out, with the unfailing 
trebles still in their ears. 

Before the train reached New York, all the many 
appurtenances had vanished from the car. The chatter- 
ing girls also had alighted at a station, with a renewed 
din like a flock of birds, and there were then left in the 
rear car only Maria, the dwarf woman, and her maid. 

It was not until the train was lighted, and she could 
no longer see anything from the window except signal- 
lights and lighted windows of towns through which they 
whirled, that Maria's unnatural mood disappeared. Sud- 
denly she glanced around the lighted car, and terror 
seized her. She was no longer a very young girl; she 
had much strength of character, but she was unused to 
the world. For the first time she seemed to feel the 
cold waters of it touch her very heart. She thought of 



the great and terrible city into which she was to launch 
herself late at night. She considered that she knew 
absolutely nothing about the hotels. She even remem- 
bered, vaguely, having heard that no unattended woman 
was admitted to one, and then she had no baggage except 
her little satchel. She glanced at herself in the little 
glass beside her seat, and her pretty face all at once 
occurred to her as being a great danger rather than an 
advantage. Now she wished for her aunt Maria's face 
instead of her own. She imagined that Aunt Maria 
might have no difficulty even under the same adverse 
circumstances. She looked years younger than she was. 
She thought for a moment of going into the lavatory and 
rearranging her hair, with a view to making herself look 
plain and old, as she had done before, but she recalled 
the enormous change it had made in her appearance, 
and she was afraid to do that lest it should seem a 
suspicious circumstance to the conductors and her fellow- 
passengers. She glanced across the aisle at the dwarf 
woman, and their eyes met, and suddenly a curious sort 
of feeling of kinship came over the girl. Here was 
another woman outside the pale of ordinary life by 
physical conditions, as she herself was by spiritual 
ones. The dwarf's eyes looked fairly angelic and heav- 
enly to her. She saw her speak in a whisper to her 
maid, and the woman immediately arose and came to her. 

"Miss Blair wishes me to ask if you will be so kind as 
to go and speak to her; she has something which she 
wishes to say to you," she said, in the same parrot-like 

Maria arose at once, and crossed the aisle and seated 
herself in the chair which the maid vacated. The maid 
took Maria's at a nod from her mistress. 

The little woman looked at Maria for a moment with 
her keen, kind eyes and her peculiar smile deepened. 
Then she spoke. "What is the matter?" she asked. 



Maria hesitated. 

The dwarf looked across at her maid. " She will not 
understand anything you say," she remarked. "She is 
well trained. She can hear without hearing — that is 
her great accomplishment.' ' 

Still Maria said nothing. 

"You got on at Amity," said the dwarf. "Is that 
where you live?" 

"What is your name?" 

Maria closed her mouth firmly. 

The dwarf laughed. "Oh, very well," said she. "If 
you do not choose to tell it, I can. Your name is Ack- 
ley — Elizabeth Ackley. I am glad to meet you, Miss 

Maria paled a little, but she said nothing to disapprove 
this extraordinary statement. 

"My name is Blair — Miss Rosa Blair," said the dwarf. 
"I am a rose, but I happened to bloom outside the pale." 
She laughed gayly , but Maria's eyes upon her were pitiful. 
"You are also outside the pale in some way," said Miss 
Blair. "I always know such people when I meet them. 
There is an affinity between them and myself. The mo- 
ment I saw you I said to myself: she also is outside the 
pale, she also has escaped from the garden of life. Well, 
never mind, child ; it is not so very bad outside when one 
becomes accustomed to it. I am. Perhaps you have 
not had time; but you will have. What is the matter ?" 

"I am running away," replied Maria then. 

" Running away ! From what ?" 

"It is better for me to be away," said Maria, evading 
the question. "It would be better if I were dead." 

"But you are not," said the dwarf, with a quick 
movement almost of alarm. 

"No," said Maria; "and I see no reason why I shall 
not live to be an old woman." 



" I don't either," said Miss Blair. " You look healthy. 
You say, better if you were dead — better for whom, 
yourself or others?" 


"Oh!" said Miss Blair. She remained quietly regard- 
ful of Maria for a little while, then she spoke again. 
" Where are you going when you reach New York?" she 

"I was going out to Edgham, but I shall miss the last 
train, and I shall have to go to a hotel," replied Maria, 
and she looked at the dwarf with an expression of almost 
childish terror. 

"Don't you know that it may be difficult for a young 
girl alone? Have you any baggage?" 

Maria looked at her little satchel, which she had left 
beside her former chair. 

"Is that all?" asked Miss Blair. 


"You must certainly not think of trying to go to a 
hotel at this time of night," said the dwarf. "You must 
go home with me. I am entirely safe. Even your 
mother would trust you with me, if you have one." 

"I have not, nor father, either," replied Maria. "But 
I am not afraid to trust you for myself." 

A pleased expression transfigured Miss Blair's face. 
"You do not distrust me and you do not shrink from 
me?" she said. 

"No," replied Maria, looking at her with indescrib- 
able gratitude. 

"Then it is settled," said the dwarf. "You will 
come home with me. I expect my carriage when we 
arrive at the station. You will be entirely safe. You 
need not look as frightened as you did a few moments 
ago again. Come home with me to-night; then we will 
see what can be done." 

Miss Blair turned her face towards the window. Her 


big chair almost swallowed her tiny figure, the sardonic 
expression had entirely left her face, which appeared at 
once noble and loving. Maria gazed at her as she sat 
so, with an odd, inverted admiration. It seemed ex- 
traordinary to her she should actually admire any one 
like this deformed little creature, but admire her she 
did. It was as if she suddenly had become possessed 
of a sixth sense for an enormity of beauty beyond the 
usual standards. 

Miss Blair glanced at her and saw the look in her 
eyes, and a look of triumph came into her own. She 
bent forward towards Maria. 

"You are sheltering me as well as I am sheltering 
you," she said, in a low voice. 

Maria did not know what to say. Miss Blair leaned 
back again and closed her eyes, and a look of perfect 
peace and content was on her face. 

It was not long before the train rolled into the New 
York tunnel. Miss Blair's maid rose and took down 
her mistress's travelling cloak of black silk, which she 
brushed with a little, ivory brush taken from her 

"This young lady is going home with us, Adelaide," 
said Miss Blair. 

"Yes, ma'am," replied the maid, without the slightest 

She took Maria's coat from the hook where it swung, 
and brushed it also, and assisted her to put it on before 
the porter entered the car. 

Maria felt again in a daze, but a great sense of security 
was over her. She had not the slightest doubt of this 
strange little creature who was befriending her. She 
felt like one who finds a ledge of safety on a precipice 
where he had feared a sheer descent. She was content 
to rest awhile on the safe footing, even if it were only 



When they alighted from the train at the station a 
man in livery met them and assisted Miss Blair down 
the steps with obsequiousness. 

"How do you do, James?" said Miss Blair, then went 
on to ask the man what horses were in the carriage. 

"The bays, Miss Blair," replied the man, respectfully. 

"I am glad of that," said his mistress, as she went 
along the platform. "I was afraid Alexander might 
make a mistake and put in those new grays. I don't 
like to drive with them at night very well." Then she 
said to Maria: "I am very nervous about horses, Miss 
Ackley. You may wonder at it. You may think I 
have reached the worst and ought to fear nothing, but 
there are worsts beyond worsts." 

"Yes," Maria replied, vaguely. She kept close to 
Miss Blair. She realized what an agony of fear she 
should have felt in that murky station with the lights 
burning dimly through the smoke and the strange 
sights and outcries all around her. 

Miss Blair's carriage was waiting, and Maria saw, 
half - comprehendingly, that it was very luxurious in- 
deed. She entered with Miss Blair and her maid, then 
after a little wait for baggage they drove aw T ay. 

When the carriage stopped, the footman assisted 
Maria out after Miss Blair, and she followed her con- 
ductress's tiny figure toiling rather painfully on the 
arm of her maid up the steps. She entered the house, 
and stood for a second fairly bewildered. 

Maria had seen many interiors of moderate luxury, 
but never anything like this. For a second her atten- 
tion was distracted from everything except the won- 
derful bizarre splendor in which she found herself. It 
was not Western magnificence, but Oriental; hangings 
of the richest Eastern stuffs, rugs, and dark gleams of 
bronzes and dull lights of brass, and the sheen of 
silken embroideries. 



When Maria at last recovered herself and turned to 
Miss Blair, to her astonishment she no longer seemed 
as deformed as she had been on the train. She fitted 
into this dark, rich, Eastern splendor as a misformed 
bronze idol might have done. Miss Blair gave a little, 
shrewd laugh at Maria's gaze, then she spoke to an- 
other maid who had appeared when the door opened. 

"This is my friend Miss Ackley, Louise," she said. 
"Take her to the west room, and call down and have a 
supper tray sent to her." Then she said to Maria that 
she must be tired, and would prefer going at once to 
her room. "I am tired myself," said Miss Blair. 
"Such persons as I do not move about the face of the 
earth with impunity. There is a wear and tear of the 
soul and the body when the body is so small that it 
scarcely holds the soul. You will have your supper 
sent up, and your breakfast in the morning. At ten 
o'clock I will send Adelaide to bring you to my room." 
She bade Maria good-night, and the girl followed the 
maid, stepping into an elevator on one side of the 
vestibule. She had a vision of Miss Blair's tiny figure 
with Adelaide moving slowly upward on the other side. 

Maria reflected that she was glad that she had her 
toilet articles and her night-dress at least in her satchel. 
She felt the maid looking at her, although her manner 
was very much like Adelaide's. She wondered what 
she would have thought if she had not at least had 
her simple necessaries for the night when she followed 
her into a room which seemed to her fairly won- 
derful. It was a white room. The walls were hung 
with paper covered with sheafs of white lilies; white 
fur rugs — wolf -skins and skins of polar bears — were 
strewn over the polished white floor. All the toilet 
articles were ivory and the furniture white, with decora- 
tions of white lilies and silver. In one corner stood a 
bed of silver with white draperies. Beyond, Maria had 

32 487 


a glimpse of a bath in white and silver, and a tiny dress- 
ing-room which looked like frost-work. When the 
maid left her for a moment Maria stood and gazed 
breathless. She realized a sort of delight in externals 
which she had never had before. The externals seemed 
to be farther - reaching. There was something about 
this white, virgin room which made it seem to her after 
her terror on the train like heaven. A sense of abso- 
lute safety possessed her. It was something to have 
that, although she was doing something so tremendous 
to her self-consciousness that she felt like a criminal, 
and the ache in her heart for those whom she had left 
never ceased. The maid brought in a tray covered 
with dainty dishes of white and silver and a little flask 
of white wine. Then, after Maria had refused further 
assistance, she left her. Maria ate her supper. She 
was in reality half famished. Then she went to bed. 
Nestling in her white bed, looking out of a lace-curtained 
window opposite through which came the glimpse of a 
long line of city lights, Maria felt more than ever as if 
she were in another world. She felt as if she were 
gazing at her past, at even her loves of life, through 
the wrong end of a telescope. 

The night was very warm but the room was deliciously 
cool. A breath of sweet coolness came from one of the 
walls. Maria, contrary to her wont, fell asleep almost 
immediately. She was exhausted, and an unusual peace 
seemed to soothe her very soul. She felt as if she had 
really died and gotten safe to Heaven. She said her 
prayers, then she was asleep. She awoke rather late 
the next morning, and took her bath, and then her 
breakfast was brought. When that was finished and 
she was dressed, it was ten o'clock, and the maid Adelaide 
came to take her to her hostess. Maria went down one 
elevator and up another, the one in which she had seen 
Miss Blair ascend the night before. Then she entered 



a strange room, in the midst of which sat Miss Blair. 
To Maria's utter amazement, she no longer seemed in 
the least deformed, she no longer seemed a dwarf. She 
was in perfect harmony with the room, which was low- 
ceiled, full of strange curves and low furniture with 
curved backs. It was all Eastern, as was the first floor 
of the house. Maria understood with a sort of intuition 
that this was necessary. The walls were covered with 
Eastern hangings, tables of lacquer stood about filled 
with squat bronzes and gemlike ivory carvings. The 
hangings were all embroidered in short curve effects. 
Maria realized that her hostess, in this room, made more 
of a harmony than she herself. She felt herself large, 
coarse, and common where she should have been tiny, 
bizarre, and, according to the usual standard, misformed. 
Miss Blair had planned for herself a room wherein every- 
thing was misformed, and in which she herself was in 
keeping. It had been partly the case on the first floor 
of the house. Here it was wholly. Maria sat down in 
one of the squat, curved-back chairs, and Miss Blair, 
who was opposite, looked at her, then laughed with the 
open delight of a child. 

' ' What a pity I cannot make the whole earth over 
to suit me," she said, " instead of only this one room! 
Now I look entirely perfect to you, do I not?" 

"Yes," Maria replied, looking at her with wonder. 

"It is my vanity room," said Miss Blair, and she 
laughed as if she were laughing at herself. Then she 
added, with a little pathos, "You yourself, if you had 
been in my place, would have wanted one little corner 
in which you could be perfect." 

"Yes, I should," said Maria. As she spoke she set- 
tled herself down lower in her chair. 

"Yes, you do look entirely too tall and straight in 
here," said Miss Blair, and laughed again, with genuine 
glee. "Beauty is only a matter of comparison, you 



know," said she. "If one is ugly and misshapen, all she 
has to do is to surround herself with things ugly and 
misshapen, and she gets the effect of perfect harmony, 
which is the highest beauty in the world. Here I am 
in harmony after I have been out of tune. It is a com- 
fort. But, after all, being out of tune is not the worst 
thing in the world. It might be worse. I would not 
make the world over to suit me, but myself to suit the 
world, if I could. After all, the world is right and I am 
wrong, but in here I seem to be right. Now, child, tell 
me about yourself." 

Maria told her. She left nothing untold. She told 
her about her father and mother, her step-mother, and 
Evelyn, and her marriage, and how she had planned to 
go to Edgham, get the little sum which her father had 
deposited in the savings-bank for her, and then vanish. 

"How?" asked Miss Blair. 

Maria confessed that she did not know. 

1 ' Of course your mere disappearance is not going to 
right things, you know," said Miss Blair. "That matri- 
monial tangle can only be straightened by your death, 
or the appearance of it. I do not suppose you meditate 
the stereotyped hat on the bank, and that sort of thing. " 

"I don't know exactly what to do," said Maria. 

"You are quite right in avoiding a divorce," said Miss 
Blair, "especially when your own sister is concerned. 
People would never believe the whole truth, but only 
part of it. The young man would be ruined, too. The 
only way is to have your death-notice appear in the 


"Everything is easy, if one has money," said Miss 
Blair, "and I have really a good deal." She looked 
thoughtfully at Maria. "Did you really care for that 
young man?" she asked. 

Maria paled. "I thought so," she said. 



"Then you did." 

"It does not make any difference if I did," said Maria, 
with a little indignation. She felt as if she were being 
probed to her heart-strings. 

" No, of course it does not," Miss Blair agreed directly. 
"If he and your sister have fallen in love, as you say, 
you have done obviously the only thing to do. We will 
have the notice in the papers. I don't know quite how 
I shall arrange it; but I have a fertile brain/' 

Maria looked hesitatingly at her. " But it will not be 
telling the truth," she said. 

"But what did you plan to do, if you told the truth 
when you came away?" asked Miss Blair with a little 

"I did not really plan anything," replied Maria help- 
lessly. "I only thought I would go." 

"You are inconsequential," said Miss Blair. "You 
cannot start upon a train of sequences in this world 
unless you go on to the bitter end. Besides, after all, 
why do you object to lying ? I suppose you were brought 
up to tell the truth, and so was I, and I really think I 
venerate the truth more than anything else, but some- 
times a lie is the highest truth. See here. You are will- 
ing to bear all the punishment, even fire and brimstone, 
and so on, if your sister and this man whom you love, 
are happy, aren't you?" 

"Of course," replied Maria. 

"Well, if you tell a lie which can hurt only yourself, 
and bless others, and are willing to bear the punishment 
for it, you are telling the truth like the angels. Don't 
you worry, my dear. But you must not go to Edgham 
for that money. I have enough for us both." 

"I have nearly all my last term's salary, except the 
sum I paid for my fare here," Maria said, proudly. 

"Well, dear, you shall spend it, and then you shall 
have some of mine." 



"I don't want any money, except what I earn/' Maria 

44 You may read to me, and earn it," Miss Blair said 
easily. 44 Don't fret about such a petty thing. Now, 
will you please touch that bell, dear. I must go and 
arrange about our passage." 

"Our passage?" repeated Maria dully. 

44 Yes, to-day is Thursday. We can catch a Saturday 
steamer. We can buy anything which you need ready- 
made in the way of wearing-apparel, and get the rest on 
the other side." 

Maria gasped. She was very white, and her eyes were 
dilated. She stared at Miss Rosa Blair, who returned 
her stare with curious fixedness. Maria seemed to see 
depths within depths of meaning in her great dark eyes. 
A dimness swept over her own vision. 

4 4 Touch the bell, please, dear," said Miss Blair. 

Maria obeyed. She touched the bell. She was swept 
off her feet. She had encountered a will stronger than 
any which she had ever known, a will which might have 
been strengthened by the tininess of the body in which 
its wings were bent, but always beating for flight. And 
she had encountered this will at a moment when her own 
was weakened and her mind dazed by the unprecedented 
circumstances in which she was placed. 


Three days later, when they were on the outward- 
bound steamer, Miss Rosa Blair crossed the corridor 
between her state-room, which she occupied with her 
maid, to Maria's, and stood a moment looking down at 
the girl lying in her berth. Maria was in that state of 
liability to illness which keeps one in a berth, although 
she was not actually sea-sick. 

"My dear," said Miss Blair. "I think I may as well 
tell you now. In the night's paper before we left, I saw 
the death-notice of a certain Maria Edgham, of Edgham, 
New Jersey. There were some particulars which served 
to establish the fact of the death. You will not be inter- 
ested in the particulars?" 

Maria turned her pale face towards the port-hole, 
against which dashed a green wave topped with foam. 
"No," said she. 

"I thought you would not," said Miss Blair. "Then 
there is something else." 

Maria waited quiescent. 

"Your name is on the ship's list of passengers as Miss 
Elizabeth Blair. You are my adopted daughter." 
Maria started. 

"Adelaide does not remember that you were called 
Miss Ackley," said Miss Blair. "She will never remem- 
ber that you were anything except my adopted daugh- 
ter. She is a model maid. As for the others, Louise is a 
model, too, and so is the coachman. The footman is 
discharged. When we return, nobody in my house will 
have ever known you except as Elizabeth Blair." Miss 



Blair went out of the state-room walking easily with the 
motion of the ship. She was a good sailor. 

The next afternoon Maria was able to sit out on deck. 
She leaned back in her steamer-chair, and wept silently. 
Miss Blair stood at a little distance near the rail, talking 
to an elderly gentleman whom she had met years ago. 
"She is my adopted daughter Elizabeth," said Miss 
Blair. " She has been a little ill, but she is much better. 
She is feeling sad over the death of a friend, poor child." 

It was a year before Maria and Miss Blair returned to 
the United States. Maria looked older, although she was 
fully as handsome as she had ever been. Her features 
had simply acquired an expression of decision and of 
finish, which they had not before had. She also looked 
more sophisticated. It had been on her mind that she 
might possibly meet her step-mother abroad, but she had 
not done so ; and one day Miss Blair had shown her a Lon- 
don newspaper in which was the notice of Ida's mar- 
riage to a Scotchman. "We need not go to Scotland," 
said Miss Blair. 

The day after they landed was very warm. They had 
gone straight to Miss Blair's New York house; later they 
were to go to the sea-shore. The next morning Maria 
went into Miss Blair's vanity room, as she called it, and 
a strange look was on her face. "I have made up my 
mind," said she. 

"Well?" Miss Blair said, interrogatively. 

"I cannot let him commit bigamy. I cannot let my 
sister marry — my husband. I cannot break the laws in 
such a fashion, nor allow them to do so." 

"You break no moral law." 

" I am not so sure. I don't know where the dividing- 
line between the moral and the legal comes." 

" I am going to take the train to Amity this noon." 


Miss Blair turned slightly pale, but she regarded Maria 
unflinchingly. "Very well," said she. "I have always 
told you that I would not oppose you in any resolution 
which you might make in the matter." 

"It is not because I love him," said Maria. "I do 
love him; I think I always shall. But it is not because 
of that." 

"I know that. What do you propose doing after you 
have disclosed yourself?" 
"Tell the truth." 
"And then what?" 

"I shall talk the matter over with Wollaston and 
Evelyn, and I think they can be made to see that a 
quiet divorce will straighten it all out." 

"Not as far as the man's career is concerned, if he 
marries your sister, and not so far as your sister is con- 
cerned. People are prone to believe the worst, as the 
sparks fly upward." 

"Then they will," Maria said, obstinately. "I have 
made up my mind I dare not undertake the responsi- 

"What will you do afterwards, come back to me?" 
Miss Blair said, wistfully. "You will come back, will 
you not, dear?" 

" If you wish," Maria said, with a quick, loving glance 
at her. 

"If I wish!" repeated Miss Blair. "Well, go if you 

Maria did not reach Amity until long after dark. 
Behind her on the train w r ere two women who got on 
at the station before Amity. She did not know 7 them, 
and they did not know her, but they presently began 
talking about her. "I saw Miss Maria Stillman at the 
Ordination in Westbridge, Wednesday," said one to the 
other. This woman had a curiously cool, long-reaching 



breath when she spoke. Maria felt it like a fan on the 
back of her neck. 

The other woman, who was fat, responded with a 
wheezy voice. " It was queer about that niece of hers, 
who taught school in Westbridge, running away and 
dying so dreadful sudden, wasn't it?" said she. 

"Dreadful queer. I guess her aunt and sister felt 
pretty bad about it, and I s'pose they do now; but it's 
a year ago, and they've left off their mourning. ,, 

"Of course," said the other woman. "They would 
leave it off on account of — " 

Maria did not hear what followed, for a thundering 
freight -train passed them and drowned the words. After 
the train had passed, the fat woman was saying, with her 
wheezy voice, "Mr. Lee's mother's death was dreadful 
sudden, wasn't it?" 


" I wonder if he likes living in Amity as well as West- 

"I shouldn't think he would, it isn't as convenient to 
the academy."" 

"Well, maybe he will go back to Westbridge after a 
while/' said the other woman, and again her breath 
fanned Maria's neck. 

She wondered what it meant. A surmise came to her, 
then she dismissed it. She was careful to keep her 
back turned to the women when the train pulled into 
Amity. She had no baggage except a suit-case. She 
got off the train, and disappeared in the familiar dark- 
ness. All at once it seemed to her as if she had returned 
from the unreal to the real, from fairy -land to the actual 
world. The year past seemed like a dream to her. She 
could not believe it. It was like that fact which is 
stranger than fiction, and therefore almost impossible 
even to write, much less to live. Miss Rosa Blair, and 
her travellings in Europe, and her house in New York, 



seemed to her like an Arabian Night's creation. She 
walked along the street towards her aunt's house, and 
realized her old self and her old perplexities. When she 
drew near the house she saw a light in the parlor windows 
and also in Aunt Maria's bedroom. Aunt Maria had 
evidently gone to her room for the night. Uncle Henry's 
side of the house was entirely dark. 

Maria stole softly into the yard, and paused in front 
of the parlor windows. The shades were not drawn. 
There sat Evelyn at work on some embroidery, while 
opposite to her sat Wollaston Lee, reading aloud. In 
Evelyn's lap, evidently hampering her with her work, 
was a beautiful yellow cat, which she paused now and 
then to stroke. Maria felt her heart almost stand still. 
There was something about it which renewed her vague 
surmise on the train. It was only a very few minutes 
before Wollaston laid down the paper which he had been 
reading, and said something to Evelyn, who began to 
fold her work with the sweet docility which Maria re- 
membered. Wollaston rose and went over to Evelyn 
and kissed her as she stood up and let the yellow cat 
leap to the floor. Evelyn looked to Maria more beauti- 
ful than she had ever seen her. Maria stood farther 
back in the shadow. Then she heard the front door 
opened, and the cat was gently put out. Then she 
heard the key turn in the lock, and a bolt slide. Maria 
stood perfectly still. A light from a lamp which was 
being carried by some one, flitted like a will-o'-the- 
wisp over the yard, and the parlor windows became 
dark. Then a broad light shone out from the front 
chamber windows through the drawn white shade, 
and lay in a square on the grass of the yard. The cat 
which had been put out rubbed against Maria's feet. 
She caught up the little animal and kissed it. Then she 
put it down gently, and hurried back to the station. 
She thought of Rosa Blair, and an intense longing came 



over her. She seemed to suddenly sense the highest 
quality of love: that which realizes the need of another, 
rather than one's own. The poor little dwarf seemed the 
very child of her heart. She looked up at the stars shin- 
ing through the plumy foliage of the trees, and thought 
how many of them might owe their glory to the radiance 
of unknown suns, and it seemed to her that her own 
soul lighted her path by its reflection of the love of God. 
She thought that it might be so with all souls which were 
faced towards God, and that which is above and beyond, 
and it was worth more than anything else in the whole 

She questioned no longer the right or wrong of what 
she had done, as she hurried on and reached the little 
Amity station in time for the last train.